RAT ERADICATION ON PALMYRA ATOLL: SEED PREDATION DETERMINES ECOSYSTEM RECOVERY
Ana Miller-ter Kuile; UC Santa Barbara; ana00@ucsb.edu; Devyn Orr, An Bui, Rodolfo Dirzo, Maggie Klope, Douglas McCauley, Carina Motta, Hillary Young
Invasive rats occur on half of the world's islands and are destructive to island biodiversity. Rat eradication can successfully recover island species, with much attention paid to seabird and vertebrate recoveries. However, because rats are abundant, generalist omnivores, their eradication likely drives changes across island taxa. In particular, on many islands, plants and seeds dominate the diets of invasive rats. We counted seeds and seedlings in forest plots on Palmyra Atoll both before and after black rat eradication in 2011 and documented significant increases in both seeds and seedlings following eradication. The responses of plants to eradication cascade to effect other consumers, including land crabs and seabirds, and we highlight how plant responses may determine the recovery of island organisms and ecosystems.

The Anthropocene: Pathogens & Invasive Species   Student Paper