Snakes Are Messing Up Guam's Ecosystem and It's Not Looking so Good

Khryss | Published 2017-08-07 03:25

What's the tropical territory of the US wherein one can pet the world's largest land-living arthropod, dive in the world’s deepest ocean, touch ship wrecks from two world wars? Clue: it's around 2,500 kilometres west of the Philippines.

GUAM!

However, this amazing tourist destination is actually having an infamous snake problem.

Boiga irregularis or the brown tree snake is a species not native to Guam but their population rises dramatically in the said place as they eat birds and other prey to extinction. Like this Myiagra freycineti, or the Guam flycatcher!

Not just that, it's effects are already extending on the ecosystem balance itself with the knock-off result on tree's population! Researchers from the US placed baskets underneath two species of fruit bearing trees in Guam and its surrounding islands to know how far those seeds would spread on the forest floor.

With this, they found that in places without the brown tree snake, 60 percent of the seeds made their way past the fall area whereas in snake-filled islands like Guam, only 10 percent of the seeds made it outside the tree’s immediate vicinity.

Since the dispersion of seeds around the forest rely so much on animals, the impact of their decreased population can lead to about 61 to 92 percent drop on the new forests' growth.

"Aside from fruit bats, which are also nearly extinct on Guam, nothing else can disperse seeds," said Haldre Rogers from the University of Colorado.

So, the US Department of Agriculture had to move and lessen the population of the brown tree snake. They've actually already started using paracetamol in the effort to eradicate the species and parachuted numerous drug-laced dead mice with it into the forests. However, this project is still new so its effectiveness is still not certain.

Now this is one ssssserious and sssssscary problem, don't you think?

 

https://www.sciencealert.com/guam-s-plague-of-snakes-is-having-a-devastating-impact-on-the-trees

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