How life's forms modify and evolve the Earth: sea birds (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 07, 2023, 15:50 (136 days ago) @ David Turell

Help grow coral reefs:

"Seabird colonies have profound effects on the islands and coastlines they inhabit. These animals live on land and hunt at sea, bringing marine nutrients onshore to fertilize habitats. Their nesting behavior can reshape the landscape, and the birds and their eggs feed predators of various sizes. And new research suggests their influence extends beyond the water’s edge, finding that coral reefs around islands populated with birds grow up to twice as quickly as ones lacking feathered friends.

"The reason, it turns out, has to do with their fecal matter. Some seabirds produce so much guano that their colonies can be spotted from space. But not all the nutrients are deposited or stay onshore. The birds also defecate over the water as they come or go, and rain can wash guano into the sea. By examining nitrogen isotopes in corals over three years, researchers found that those next to seabird islands readily use guano-derived nutrients to grow faster.

“'We’ve been able to show a clear link between the presence of seabirds and faster coral growth,” says co-author Cassandra Benkwitt. “This is really exciting and encouraging that a natural solution is available to help boost the resilience of coral reefs in the face of a warming planet.'”

Comment: a very obvious ecosystem. The underlying paper:

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