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Better bird nesting also good for giant manta rays

Disrupting tree canopies on a Pacific atoll has ecological consequences

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12:09pm, May 18, 2012

By following a pinball cascade of ecological consequences, researchers have traced the far-flung influences of preserving bird-friendly native forests versus replacing those forests with coconut palms on the Pacific atoll of Palmyra.

Red-footed boobies, black noddies and other seabirds that feast on fish nest in the islands’ sturdy, many-branched native trees, says ecologist Douglas McCauley of the University of California, Berkeley. The birds tend to avoid the branch-poor, bendy coconut palms that were planted when people reached the far-flung atoll.

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