Recovery: The Miracle on Palmyra

Unlike dead organisms, dead ecosystems can be brought back to life. That has happened at Palmyra.

In 2011, Island ConservationU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy partnered together to remove invasive rats from Palmyra. The island’s native populations were struggling until invasive rats were completely eradicated. Since then, the island continues to show signs of recovery.

Populations of two land crab species, so depressed by rats they hadn’t been previously observed, are now regularly seen. Seedlings that sprouted a few weeks after the last rat died now tower over managers’ heads. These and other healthy plants provide shelter or cover for at least 10 breeding seabird species, including the planet’s second largest colony of red-footed boobies. Researchers report dramatic increases in sooty terns, white terns, black noddies, brown noddies, and white-tailed tropicbirds. And recolonization of wedge-tailed shearwaters, blue noddies and gray-backed terns appears imminent.

Red-Tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda, Palmyra Atoll NWR, Line Islands, Pacific Ocean
                                            Red-Tailed Tropicbird, Palmyra Atoll. Photo by Tommy Adkins

Click here to read about the spectacular recovery starting to take place on Palmyra in this great article by Ted Williams!


About Sara Kaiser

Sara received a BA in anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. As a freelance writer and editor, she seeks to produce and highlight stories that support ecological responsibility, body awareness, emotional intelligence, and creative action, and reveal the connections between them.

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