Tortoise droppings reveal changes to the eco-system

Swansea University scientists are studying fossilized tortoise droppings to shed more light on the changing eco-system of the Galapagos islands.

Tortoise poo Discover Magazine features the work of Swansea University ecologist Dr Cynthia Froyd and her colleagues who are researching how the landscape of the Galapagos Islands has changed since tortoise numbers dropped in the 16th century.

Evidence from their study of fossilized tortoise droppings suggests that as the tortoise population diminished from the highland areas of the island, these wetlands filled in and became peat bogs dense enough to walk on. Other plant species that had lived there were choked out. Open, freshwater wetlands became rare all across the Galapagos.

Globally Froyd says, “we may be missing some of the impacts that past loss of large herbivores has had on ecosystems.” 

Even though tortoises are currently being reintroduced back to the island, conservation scientist agree that simply replacing one animal species won't turn back the clock on eco-system change.

Read more on this fascinating research story here