After years of fighting the threats posed by foreign species on the Hawaiian islands, conservationists have discovered that invasive birds may now be the only hope left for the survival of some native plants.
Hawaii is one of the most invaded places in the world, in terms of foreign species. More than 4,600 plant and 140 bird species have been introduced by human activity, with at least 58 types of bird establishing permanent breeding populations there. Most land birds in Hawaii are now exotic.
Biologists Jeff Foster at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Scott Robinson at the University of Florida, Gainesville, took a look at seed dispersal in Hawaiian forests — both those with native plants, and those composed of exotic species that had been planted in the 1960s for the timber industry.
In the article, one researcher says exotic birds might be helping with habitat restoration. Click the first link for details.