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Potential benefits to breeding seabirds of converting abandoned coconut plantations to native habitats after invasive predator eradication

Carr, P; Trevail, A; Bárrios, S; Clubbe, C; Freeman, R; Koldewey, HJ; Votier, SC; ... Nicoll, MAC; + view all (2021) Potential benefits to breeding seabirds of converting abandoned coconut plantations to native habitats after invasive predator eradication. Restoration Ecology , 29 (5) , Article e13386. 10.1111/rec.13386. Green open access

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Abstract

On many Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, colonization by humans brought invasive species, native vegetation destruction, and coconut plantations, leading to the decimation of seabird populations. The coconut industry on oceanic islands has since crashed, leaving the legacy of altered, impoverished ecosystems. Many island restoration projects eradicate invasive species, particularly rats, with the goal of restoring seabird-driven ecosystems. However, in the absence of converting abandoned plantations to habitat conducive to breeding seabirds, seabird-driven ecosystems may not fully recover after rat eradication. Here we quantify and, by resource selection function, confirm seabird habitat selection within the Chagos Archipelago, before estimating the potential difference in breeding abundance following rat eradication with and without active management of abandoned plantations. Using Ile du Coin as our primary example, we estimate that following rat eradication, but without plantation conversion, this island could potentially support 4,306 (±93) pairs of breeding seabird; if restored to habitat representative of associated rat-free islands, 138,878 (±1,299) pairs. If 1 km2 of plantation is converted to produce 0.5 km2 each of native forest and savanna, it could theoretically support 319,762 (±2,279) breeding pairs—more than the entire archipelago at present. Our research indicates that when setting restoration goals in the Chagos Archipelago, at least 55% of the restored habitat should be composed of native forest and savanna in order to support a viable seabird community. Our research enhances the prospects of successfully restoring seabird islands across the tropical landscape with wider benefits to native biodiversity.

Type: Article
Title: Potential benefits to breeding seabirds of converting abandoned coconut plantations to native habitats after invasive predator eradication
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/rec.13386
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.13386
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. Restoration Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Ecological Restoration. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Chagos Archipelago, invasive species, rat eradication, restoration, vegetation management
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124851
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