Galapagos finches return after rodent eradication


A research trip to Rábida and Pinzón has demonstrated how the ecosytems of both of these Galapagos islands have been restored following the removal of invasive rodents 10 years ago.

The team regularly encountered Common Cactus Finch, a species considered extinct on these particular islands for over 40 years. Perhaps more surprisingly, a burgeoning population of Galapagos Crakes was found in the upper section of Pinzón Island. This species, endemic to Galapagos, has never previously been reported on Pinzón.

Common Cactus Finch has returned to the islands after an absence of more than 40 years (Ian Fulton).

The field team was pleased to find a growing population of Galapagos Hawks "fulfilling their role as top predators". Other discoveries included a healthy number of Rábida Leaf-toed Geckos, known until now only from subfossil remains dated at over 5,000 years old.

The expedition was led by Galapagos National Park rangers, with support from the Jocotoco Foundation and the University of Idaho. Over eight days in late November, the team surveyed birds, reptiles, snails and vegetation on both Rábida and Pinzón. Located in the centre of the archipelago, the wildlife of these smaller islands had suffered from the impact of invasive rodents.

Researchers reported an increase in Galapagos Hawks on the islands (Terry Brown).

Danny Rueda Córdova, director of the Galapagos National Park, said: "The management measures implemented on these islands in recent decades have been effective and today we can see the results. The islands have once again become the habitat of endemic species of great importance to the ecosystem.

"On Pinzón, the Giant Tortoises returned to nest after more than 150 years. Because of our work to remove invasive rodents, the population now reproduces naturally without human intervention."