Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bringing Dispersal Back to Guam....

In June, we got the good news that the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP, a Department of Defense program) has selected to fund an EBL project! In collaboration with Julie Savidge from Colorado State University, we will be starting a 5-year, multi-faceted project that attempts to set the groundwork for restoring seed dispersal to Guam's forests.

  • First, we will finish investigating the impacts of seed disperser loss on the forest, so we can predict what a forest with or without dispersers will look like in 50 or 100 years. 
  • Second, we will investigate the role of the native frugivores still present on Guam (e.g. Micronesian Starling) or nearby islands (e.g. Mariana Fruit Dove, White-Throated Ground Dove, Bridled White-eye) to see which are the most effective dispersers. We will also explore the role of feral pigs and rats in seed dispersal on Guam. 
  • Third, we will explore the challenges associated with using native birds (would they reliably roost in snake fences, would they play a similar ecological role on Guam as they do on other islands), as well as the negative impacts of feral pigs and invasive rats on forest tree species. 
  • Finally, we will develop candidate disperser assemblages that can provide adequate seed dispersal functions to the forest (i.e. a combination of the starling, white-eye, and rats provides almost complete dispersal services). Using these assemblages, we will develop a plan for creating snake-free or snake-reduced areas that maximize the dispersal services provided to the forests of Guam.
Research begins this fall. Stay tuned!