Galapagos Islands

How One Endangered Species Is Making A Change For the Better—Eating Sweeter Flora Instead

Many endangered species like the Giant Tortoises of the Galápagos islands share a similar fate with the introduction of human beings to their natural landscape. With humans so too come the pets and the plants that invade their space. And more often than not it means that these endangered species either die off or adapt to avoid competition or costly meals. But for some, in very rare conditions, it means that the species can thrive even better than it could on its sparse local sources for food. And in a new study published this week in the Biotropica, researchers say that after a four year study, tracking the movement and foraging behavior of giant tortoises, it appears that they are seeking out sweeter treats of invasive flora and fruits instead of their local fare.

How One Endangered Species Is Making A Change For the Better—Eating Sweeter Flora Instead

Many endangered species like the Giant Tortoises of the Galápagos islands share a similar fate with the introduction of human beings to their natural landscape. With humans so too come the pets and the plants that invade their space. And more often than not it means that these endangered species either die off or adapt to avoid competition or costly meals. But for some, in very rare conditions, it means that the species can thrive even better than it could on its sparse local sources for food. And in a new study published this week in the Biotropica, researchers say that after a four year study, tracking the movement and foraging behavior of giant tortoises, it appears that they are seeking out sweeter treats of invasive flora and fruits instead of their local fare.

The Energy for a New Crawl—Galápagos Tortoises Feast on Invasive Plants for a New Foraging Technique

When it comes to invasive flora, most conservation ecologists know that the ramifications that come with these primary producers often appear much higher in the food chain. Some animals are unequipped to utilize the plants for food, while others simply find the energy spent foraging for it is far too much for the energy gained. And it’s a dynamic that often leads some species to coevolve. But looking into one of the first Darwinian subjects, Galápagos Giant Tortoises, some researchers have found that the unique species may be getting far more out of the invasive flora than they once thought—enough to even change their foraging behavior altogether.
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