Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand

Coastal Dune Ecosystem Reference Database

Direct and indirect effects of rats: does rat eradication restore ecosystem functioning of New Zealand seabird islands? Journal Paper

Mulder, C.P.H., Grant-Hoffman, M.N., Towns, D.R., Bellingham, P.J., Wardle, D.A., Durrett, M.S., Fukami, T., Bonner, K.I.
Journal / Source
Biological Invasions
Publisher / Organisation
Invasive plants, Rat eradication, Restoration, Seabird density, Soil characteristics, Woody seedlings
Introduced rats (Rattus spp.) can affect island vegetation structure and ecosystem functioning, both directly and indirectly (through the reduction of seabird populations). The extent to which structure and function of islands where rats have been eradicated will converge on uninvaded islands remains unclear. We compared three groups of islands in New Zealand: islands never invaded by rats, islands with rats, and islands on which rats have been controlled. Differences between island groups in soil and leaf chemistry and leaf production were largely explained by burrow densities. Community structure of woody seedlings differed by rat history and burrow density. Plots on islands with high seabird densities had themost non-native plant species. Sincemost impacts of rats were mediated through seabird density, the removal of rats without seabird recolonization is unlikely to result in a reversal of these processes. Even if seabirds return, a novel plant community may emerge.