Disrupting tree canopies on a Pacific atoll has ecological consequences
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.
It turns out that the birds’ real estate decisions affect where big fish feed