GEOGRAPHY IN THE NEWS:
Human activity has played a major role in reshaping the planet's biogeography, in part because humans intentionally and unintentionally move species from one location to another. The term "rat spill" refers to the accidental introduction of rats via shipping: rats stowaway on ships, scamper down mooring lines in a new port of call, and can even swim for at least 200 yards and sometimes up to two kilometers. "Between 40 and 60 percent of all recorded bird and reptile extinctions since 1600 have been attributed to rats, with Norway, black, and Pacific rats the most destructive species. These losses warp ecosystems. Without seabirds and shorebirds to control intertidal invertebrates, for instance, populations can surge and decimate seaweed. Deprived of ocean nutrients found in seabird poop, island grassland can turn to tundra. Rats may have even contributed to the fall of civilization on Easter Island, devouring the environment out from underneath its human inhabitants." This article from Hakai Magazine (Canada) documents the extraordinary efforts wildlife biologists and local peoples are making to protect native fauna and keep Alaska's islands rat free. www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-rat-spill
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