Most people are afraid of rats and it’s no wonder, since these annoying pests can carry a lot of diseases. Whenever and wherever they appear, local residents do whatever they can to get rid of rats, although it’s not an easy task.
If the situation is like this for civilized areas, you can imagine how hard it is for isolated island inhabitants. Studies conducted over the years have shown that rats can decimate bird colonies living on tropical islands, since they eat their eggs and chicks. This being the situation, the ecosystems from these areas are seriously affected.
Fewer birds mean poor diversity and a lower quantity of bird droppings. Because of this, the quality and quantity of life in these ecosystems is lower than it should be. Or at least this is what scientists thought so far, because recently they discovered that the rats’ devastating impact doesn’t stop at the island’s edge.
The entire marine ecosystem can be affected by rats
Nick Graham, a marine ecologist working at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom says that by interfering with the bird population from the shore, rats can destroy adjacent marine ecosystems. On July 11th, the Nature journal published a study conducted by Graham and his team.
The research was initially presented at the 2018 European Open Science Forum 2018 which took place on July 10th in Toulouse, France. Here, the group showed that coral reefs situated near rat-infested islands are not as healthy as those living next to islands without rat colonies.
Another study published in 2016 support the idea that invasive species are responsible for 86% of the extinctions registered among animals which live on islands. In addition, climate change and global warming are other decimating factors which affect marine ecosystems.
The study’s results give conservationists an idea on how to preserve the threatened animals and coral reefs. An urgent measure would be to get rid of the rat population. On long term, they need to think about more complex measures for limiting the effects of climate change.