£97,319,821 invested in 835 projects in 157 countries since 1992

The Darwin Initiative

Galapagos Marine Invasive Species: Prevention, Detection and Management

Dr Ken Collins, Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton
Darwin Project: 19009

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) describes the effect of invasive species as the second most important reason for biodiversity loss worldwide. Invasive marine species are most likely to be introduced to the Galapagos is by the variety of boats from mainland Ecuador and around the world. Two new algae species with the potential to cause problems, have been found in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, a World Heritage Site. There are also several species with a high potential of being introduced to the islands, such as the white coral Carijoa racimosa, which has already been reported in mainland Ecuador. These invasive species are characterized by competing for space and resources with other species of algae and native endemic corals.

The UK Darwin Initiative is supporting a new project on Galapagos marine invasives led by the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the University of Southampton. Other collaborators are the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS), the Navy's Oceanographic Institute (INOCAR), National Direction of Aquatic Spaces (DIRNEA), Ecuadorian Agency for Quality Assurance (AGROCALIDAD) and University of Dundee.

The project will:

  • Collect and produce baseline information on marine invasive species
  • Implement a monitoring and early warning system mainly for the islands ports, which are the areas most sensitive to the introduction of species
  • Study the distribution, abundance and interactions of introduced species that are already established in Galapagos
  • Conduct a risk assessment using ocean circulation models, dispersal capability and habitat requirements of potential invasive species
  • Train staff of the Galapagos national Park Service, AGROCALIDAD and national students in monitoring techniques, taxonomy and data analysis
  • Establish a program to disseminate information about threats, impacts and preventive measures for different users of the Galapagos marine reserve

Soledad Luna is leading an enthusiastic team, based at the Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Close by they are mapping the coverage of Caulerpa racimosa in Playa Mansa at Tortuga Bay, where they think this species has covered a 90% of a shallow embayment. Through May they surveyed the adjacent islands of Española and Floreana, then west to Isabela and Fernandina and finally the northern islands. In the west and south they have found some of the species reported as introduced (two algae, a bryozoan and a cup-coral).

The possibly invasive algae Aspargopsis sp. and Inti is exploring it in Cabo Douglas, Fernandina. The picture was taken by David Acuña.

An algae Caulerpa racimosa found commonly in Galapagos which as caused problems in other places, including California. The picture was taken by David Acuña.

Ken Collins, University of Southampton, with a marine iguana unique to the Galapagos. Photograph by Jenny Mallison.

Page last modified: Friday, 12 October 2012

Darwin 2012 - 20 years of the Darwin Initiative

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