The researchers made seed traps out of screen and PVC pipe from the hardware store.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of Nash Turley, University of Washington
Can Forests Survive Without Birds?
News story originally written on January 30, 2009
Taking one type of animal out of an ecosystem could cause lots of changes. This is what is happening in forests on island of Guam, an island in the western Pacific.
There used to be birds on Guam. But snakes were brought to the island more than 60 years ago and they have been eating the birds. Today there are very few birds left in the forests and there are lots of snakes.
Birds move seeds around a forest. They eat the fruit from a tree swallowing the seeds, and then fly to another tree in the forest where they defecate the seeds. Scientists have been studying how seeds are spread through the forest without birds.
The scientists set traps to catch falling seeds to see how far seeds get from the trees where they formed. They also set up seed traps in the forests of Saipan, an island that still has birds. They counted the number of seeds that fell into each trap. And they compared how far seeds travel in the two places.
So far they have found that seeds on Guam stayed near the tree where they formed while many of the seeds on Saipan were far away from the tree where they formed. It looks like the lack of birds is having an effect.
On the bird-less island of Guam, seeds don’t get moved around. The fruits don’t fall far from their trees. And seeds that are under the tree where they formed are less likely to grow into a new fruit tree than seeds that are moved away from their parent trees.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
Biomes are large areas of the world where there are similar plants, animals, and other living things. The living things are adapted to the climate. Explore the links below to learn more about different...more
Have you ever been to a rainforest? Rainforests have very different trees than the ones you might climb in your yard. Thousands of species of plants and animals live in the rain forests of the world. But...more
There are many pretty birds in the tropical rain forest. There are over 300 species of parrot in the rain forest. The scarlet macaw is one of the biggest ones. It can reach 3 feet in length. Toucans are...more
Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. Adam Kent, a geologist at Oregon State University, says this...more
The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core. The mantle is made up of many different reservoirs that have different chemical compositions. Scientists...more
Some faults look strong and like they wouldn’t cause an earthquake. But it turns out that they can slip and slide like weak faults causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults...more
The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more