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Colonization of Nishino-shima Island by Plants and Arthropods 31 Years after Eruption

From: Pacific Science
Volume 60, Number 3, July 2006
pp. 355-365 | 10.1353/psc.2006.0014


Although many researchers have studied colonization, the process has rarely been observed on newly emerged oceanic islands. To describe the colonization process of a remote oceanic island, I investigated the flora, vegetation, and pollinators of Nishino-shima Island 31 yr after a major eruption in 1973. Nishino-shima Island, which is 22 ha in size, is located 1,000 km south of mainland Japan. Vegetation cover had increased, especially on new lowland area, since a preliminary survey done 10 yr after the eruption, but plant species richness remained poor (only six species). Thus, the plant colonization rate (0.10 species/yr) was far slower than that of other volcanic islands such as Krakatau. Most plants (four species) had ocean-dispersed seeds, but two species were likely dispersed via attachment to seabirds. Despite colonization by only a few plant species, there were abundant flower visitors including ants, bugs, a butterfly, and a fly ( but no bee species), and the average visitation rate per flower was 5.5 visits/12 hr in total observations. Most of the insects used multiple food sources, concurrently acting as scavengers or herbivores.