Resources > Video: Guarding the World’s Finest Guano: A Story of Ecology and Economy

Guarding the World's Finest Guano: A Story of Ecology and Economy

Join professor Scott A. Taylor as he shares a fascinating presentation on the ecological and economic significance of guano in South America. The nutrient rich Humboldt Current flows along the coasts of Peru and Chile and supports some of the largest concentrations of schooling fish in the world. These fish provide food for millions of seabirds and support the world’s largest seabird colonies. Starting with the Inca and continuing to the present day, the droppings (guano) produced by these birds were used to fertilize crops. More recently, the concentrated nitrogen in guano was used to produce gun powder. Astoundingly, the value of the guano industry exceeded 13 billion USD at its peak. Initially mismanaged, the ecologically and economically unique “guano islands” are now under strict protection by the Peruvian government. However, competition with contemporary fishing fleets threatens the long-term persistence of the seabird and marine mammal populations that these islands support.

Scott A. Taylor, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder

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