chapter  13
23 Pages

Changes in island biota

Many of the islands and cays of the Great Barrier Reef have been significantly modified by human activity since European settlement (Hopley, 1982; Lucas et al., 1997, p50). As outlined in previous chapters, those impacts include the removal of guano and rock phosphate (Chapter 10), and the effects of military target practice exercises involving the bombing and shelling of islands and reefs (Chapter 12). In addition to those impacts, however, there have been other profound transformations of the biota of islands, which form the subject of this chapter. Those transformations include the creation of coconut palm plantations on many islands; the destruction of island vegetation by introduced goats; the misuse of fire; and the introduction of exotic types of vegetation, such as Lantana spp. and prickly pear (Opuntia spp.). Other significant changes in island vegetation and animal populations occurred due to the development of various types of infrastructure on islands, including tourist resorts and airstrips. Those changes are discussed in turn in this chapter, based on evidence gathered primarily from the archival files of the QEPA, held at the QSA.