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Snakes killing more than birds in Guam

Seattle -- Brown tree snakes have caused the extinction of native bird species in Guam and are changing the entire ecosystem of the island, biologists said.

Snakes killing more than birds in GuamGet original file (11KB)

University of Washington researchers said birds are important for pollination and controlling insects that feed on plants.

"The brown tree snake has often been used as a textbook example for the negative impacts of invasive species, but after the loss of birds no one has looked at the snake's indirect effects," Haldre Rogers, a UW doctoral student in biology, said in a statement. "It has been 25 years since the birds disappeared. It seems to me the consequences are going to keep reverberating throughout the community if birds are fundamental components of the forest."

The brown tree snake decimated the island's native bird population after it was introduced by accident following World War II. It is estimated there are more than 3,000 snakes per square mile on the island, the university said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International.