Landbird Conservation Program
Our knowledge about the population numbers, health and breeding success of Galapagos landbirds is still incomplete. Over recent years, populations of several species, such as the Vermilion flycatcher, Warbler finch, small tree finch, medium tree finch, large tree finch and woodpecker finch have declined on some islands and some have even gone extinct. The reasons for these declines are not completely understood. The most imminent threat for landbirds is the presence of the invasive fly, Philornis downsi, a nest parasite. The numerous larvae suck the blood of recently hatched chicks and cause very high levels of fledgling mortality. Landbird species that are in decline might also suffer from competition with the introduced Smooth-billed ani or from predation by introduced mammals, such as rats and mice. Habitat alteration and diseases (e.g. avian pox) are other factors that might be affecting birds.
Charles Darwin Foundation researchers and collaborators are currently working on strategies to detect species declines in a timely manner and evaluate the status of landbirds in the archipelago. They are also carrying out studies on the ecology of little-known species with the aim of developing plans for protecting the most threatened species of birds. At the same time, CDF scientists, alongside local and international partners, are developing control methods for Philornis downsi in Galapagos.
Collaborators: Galapagos National Park Directorate, Fundar, University of Vienna, Austria; Flinders University, Australia; University of Missouri, US; BirdLife Austria; Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany.
Funders: Galapagos Conservancy, International Community Foundation (with a grant awarded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust)
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