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Posted Sat Feb 5 2011: from BBC:
New Zealand scientists record 'biodiversity breakdown'
Scientists in New Zealand say they have linked the modern-day decline of a common forest shrub with the local extinction of two pollinating birds over a century ago. They say the disappearance of two birds - the bellbird and stitchbird - from the upper North Island of the country has lead to a slow decline in common plants, including the forest shrub New Zealand gloxinia. Ship rats and stoats imported into the country around the year 1870 are blamed for the birds' demise.... The researchers wanted to observe the impact on New Zealand gloxinia of these disappearing bird populations and so compared the situation on the mainland with that of three nearby island bird sanctuaries where the birds remain abundant. What they found was that pollination rates were vastly reduced on the mainland with seed production per flower 84 percent lower compared with the islands. While this has yet to fully manifest itself in the density of adult gloxinia populations on the mainland, the researchers found 55 percent fewer juvenile plants per adult plant on the mainland vis-a-vis the islands.... An estimated 49 percent of all land birds have been lost in New Zealand, say the researchers, and the consequences of that are far greater than those outlined in this study.
[Read more stories about: ecosystem interrelationships, invasive species, sixth extinction]

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