Ground turtle slowly but surely saves forests of tropical islands


24/04/2011

Terrestrial turtles come to the aid of a tropical island, threatened with deforestation.

British scientists brought the giant tortoises on the island of Mauritius, to help with the distribution of seeds of black trees on the widest possible area.

Intensive logging, which did not stop until 1980, was devastating for that once covered the island forests.

Although logging stopped 30 years ago, after the disappearance of these places a giant turtle, wide strips of land are still standing naked. This is particularly noticeable in the north and the east coast.

Giant tortoises, which reach a length of almost one and a half meters and can weigh up to 230 pounds, have been re-introduced to these places to eat local fruit trees and spread the seeds in their feces.

This strategy worked even better than expected by experts. This allowed to place the seeds in areas that were seriously affected by logging.

Turtle not only carry seeds on the island, but also improved them, going through its digestive tract, they began to germinate better.

Lead researcher Christine Griffiths of Bristolkskogo University, said: "Our research has shown that the implementation of the ecosystem of these effective seed distributors, you can restore the trees, endangered species, whose seeds had not spread."

"Experiments on the maintenance of wildlife, such as ours, are necessary to determine the feasibility of restoring the missing interactions."

"There is growing evidence that environmentalists should focus their efforts on the reduction of interactions between species, rather than on the reduction of quantitative indicators."

"The interaction of species strengthens the ecological systems and improve their individual processes and functions such as pollination and seed dispersal, which are necessary for self-regulation and maintenance of balance in the system."

Details of the study were published in the journal Current Biology.

Original: Dailymail


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