Endangered Galapagos petrel nest discovered

Galapagos petrel

From Wildlife Extra:

New colony of critically endangered Galapagos Petrels found on Isabela Island

31/07/2009 23:29:08

Boost for Galapagos petrel conservation

July 200[9]. Park rangers from the Isabela Island in the Galapagos have confirmed the existence of a nest of a Galapagos petrel, an endemic species in Galapagos, in the agricultural zone of Isabela Island. Until now, it was not known that any Galapagos petrels nested on this island.

Thanks to information provided by the owners of several farms in the highlands on Isabela Island, the rangers began systematic monitoring to confirm or rule out the presence of Galapagos petrels in the area. During night-time searches, more than a dozen of these birds were spotted on different properties, the birds’ trills were heard as they flew overhead and fresh faeces and feathers were found.

Nest with egg found

At the site known as “The Infiernillo,” inside the Galapagos National Park boundaries, park rangers found a nest containing a petrel and an egg. If more proof a nesting colony is confirmed, this will increase the size of the population of Galapgos petrels in the archipelago. The search continues and hopes to find further important information, such as the number of active nests and the full distribution of the species. At the same time, rangers of the Isabela Technical Office have begun to carry out activities to control introduced rats – the main predator of the petrels in the islands where they nest.

Rat and cat control

“We must establish a monitoring system to control cat and rat populations to ensure the survival of this colony and to increase its size,” said Director of the GNP, Edgar Muñoz Heredia.

One of six endemic sea birds in the Galapagos

The Galapagos petrel is one of the six endemic marine birds of the archipelago. They nest in lava holes surrounded by dense vegetation in the highland areas of the islands of Santa Cruz, Santiago, San Cristóbal, Floreana and, now, in Isabela. Galapagos petrels live in pairs and they return to the same nest to lay a single egg each year. Currently, the Galapagos petrel is regarded as a species threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List. However, following recent management actions undertaken by the GNP in recent years, the Galapagos petrel has increased its reproductive success.

Courtesy of Parque Nacional Galápagos – Ecuador.

Unique species of Galápagos Islands threatened by mosquitoes: here.

2 thoughts on “Endangered Galapagos petrel nest discovered

  1. Santiago Declared Goat Free

    The island of Santiago, the fourth largest island in the Galapagos Archipelago, has been declared officially goat-free. Feral goats were released on the 226-square-mile island in the 1920s. The goat population exploded, and by the 1990s the goats had destroyed much of the shrub and tree vegetation in the sensitive highlands of the island.

    The destruction of wooded and forested areas was dramatic, leaving only short grasses over much of the island, which is home to nine species of Darwin’s finches, including the unique tool-using Woodpecker Finch, and to threatened species such as the Galapagos Rail and Galapagos Petrel. Damage to their habitat had put significant pressure on the populations of these species.

    Following an eradication project by the Galapagos National Park Service and Charles Darwin Foundation from 2001 to 2005, and three subsequent years of monitoring to assure that all goats were gone, the island was declared goat free in February, making this the largest eradication of invasive mammals from an island ever achieved. Even before the eradication had been completed, vegetation began growing back, renewing the habitat for the endemic birds and tortoises. With no goats or other large grazing mammals on the island, it is expected that vegetation recovery will be rapid, resulting in substantially increased bird populations.



  2. UM scientist studies volcanoes in Galapagos Islands

    Rosenstiel School’s Falk Amelung of Palmetto Bay helped install 16 seismic stations in the Galapagos Islands that will help researchers study volcanoes.

    At the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, on an island in the Panama Canal, the experiments were running wild. A giant anteater was lumbering up the trunk of a ceibo tree, playing hide to a scientist’s seek. An agouti, a rabbit-size rodent, had evaded a trap — and a researcher’s clutches — leaving the bait for an unsuspecting spiny rat. Army ants were halting foot traffic as they hauled larvae home, and, high in the trees, howler monkeys were making faces and tossing branches at interlopers below.

    How does anyone get any work done here? Or, is this the work?

    ”Barro Colorado is the longest-studied piece of tropical real estate in the world,” said Beth King, the institute’s science interpreter. “It’s not a park; it’s a research island. It’s like walking through a living lab.”

    MAST science teacher part of Aquarius research program
    MAST science teacher part of Aquarius research program

    Mark Tohulka is a full-time teacher and part-time aquanaut.

    On Tuesday, he embarked on an eight-day adventure under the sea.

    Tohulka, who teaches biology and marine biology at MAST Academy, is on a mission aboard Aquarius, the only permanent underwater research station in the world. It’s four miles offshore from Key Largo.

    Hialeah Gardens teen takes scientific studies to New Mexico
    Hialeah Gardens teen takes scientific studies to New Mexico

    MariaCarla Gonzalez is looking to shake things up this summer.

    The incoming senior at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School is headed to New Mexico to study volcanoes and tectonics alongside a team of scientists.

    MariaCarla, 16, of Hialeah Gardens, will help geologists collect rock samples in the Rio Grande rift. Then, she’ll analyze the rocks in the University of New Mexico’s paleomagnetic laboratory.

    Wreck of old slave ship found near Turks & Caicos
    Wreck of old slave ship found near Turks & Caicos

    Archaeologists have stumbled across a significant chapter in the history of the Turks and Caicos, discovering the remains of an old slave ship off the Caribbean islands’ coast.

    Maritime archaeologists announced Tuesday they recently identified the wreck of the Trouvadore, whose occupants settled on the islands after their ship grounded on a reef in 1841.

    ”We have compelling evidence this is the Trouvadore,” Don Keith, president of the Texas-based underwater archaeology research institute Ships of Discovery, said in a telephone news conference.

    Fairchild horticulturist pulls up roots
    Fairchild horticulturist pulls up roots

    Over the last few years, it has not been unusual to see the executive director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden striding across the grounds with a small, dark-haired boy on his shoulders and a slightly larger dark-eyed girl clinging to the leg of his pants. Mike Maunder’s son Peter, 4, and daughter Catherine, 7, have spent many days at work with Dad.

    During his six years at the garden, first as director of horticulture, then as acting director and finally director, Maunder’s commitment never wavered, even if it meant toting the children. With a broad grin and a kid on his shoulders, Maunder’s British charm was even more appealing. Especially in his trademark pink or baby-blue shirts.

    Resigning after four years as executive director, Maunder, 45, heads to Abu Dhabi this month to become director of botany and landscapes at the $1 billion, 2,000-acre Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort. But he’s not cutting ties entirely: Fairchild is about to sign a long-term consulting contract with him, said Bruce Greer

    He took a plane, sailed on a boat, rode horseback, flew on a helicopter and trekked across a volcano — all for science.

    Falk Amelung, a geophysicist at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key, went on a three-week expedition to the Galapagos Islands this summer to help install 16 seismic stations.

    The stations will record data from Sierra Negra, one of the Galapagos’ and the world’s most active volcanoes.

    Sierra Negra, on Isla Isabela off the coast of Ecuador, last erupted in 2005. But its previous eruption in 1979 was one of the largest in the 20th century.

    Amelung, 45, of Palmetto Bay, was with a team of six other scientists, students and teachers, often in harsh uninhabited terrain.

    “It really was an adventure,” he said.

    He’s done it before. The German-born Amelung has also studied volcanoes in Hawaii and earthquakes in the San Francisco area.

    “I have always been interested in the power of nature’s force,” Amelung said.

    The data the Galapagos stations record over the next three years will confirm where the volcano’s magma chamber is, which the researchers estimate is two kilometers beneath the surface of its caldera or a crater-like basin.

    The seismometers will only record data. Researchers will have to return twice a year to maintain the stations and collect the information. But more concrete knowledge of the volcano’s inner structure will help them better understand it and will bring them a step closer to better predicting volcanic activity.

    “Right now it’s like a big memory card for a camera, all the data is just being stored,” Amelung said. “I think in January is when it’s planned for another team to go and retrieve that data.”

    The stations are comprised of a seismometer, a battery, a solar panel and electronics to continuously record ground vibrations from local and distant earthquakes.

    Earthquakes on the island are frequent, though most of them are barely even felt.

    Amelung had written the proposal to the National Science Foundation last year with seismologist Cindy Ebinger of the University of Rochester and volcanologist Dennis Geist of the University of Idaho.

    The foundation emphasizes involving the classroom and Lisa Hjelm, geologist and science teacher at Girls’ Middle School in Mountain View, Calif., was brought on to the project. She received an additional grant for educational outreach.

    “They actually gave me more than I initially asked for,” Hjelm said.

    She intends on creating a visualization of the volcano geared toward teens with the help of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. She has also created a blog about the expedition.

    The Ecuadorean government required an Ecuadorean student to be involved so Daniel Pacheco and professor Mario Ruiz worked on the project too.

    Ruiz is working toward using similar technology, connected to a satellite, to create a warning volcano system.

    An engineer also was part of the expedition to oversee the installation of the seismometers.

    The team met in Puerto Villamil, the only town on Isla Isabela, which is otherwise largely uninhabited. The fishing town is home to about 2,000 people.

    Over the course of the next three weeks, the scientists, with the help of the crew of the boat they had chartered, La Pirata, and the staff at the Darwin Research Center deployed the stations across the island.

    The team split up into two groups — the volcano team and the boat team.

    The scientists had planned to evenly distribute the stations across the island and had a general idea of where they would go.

    But they faced challenges with Isla Isabela’s lack of roads, rough terrain and wildlife.

    The volcano team hiked up the mountain every day after spending the night in the small town or found other station sites on horseback.

    “You can drive up to the volcano, but the hike up to the caldera is about an hour and a half long,” Amelung said. “We walked, we used horses, at one point we even used a helicopter.”

    The boat team covered the perimeter of the island and used a dinghy to transport the equipment from the ship to the island after spending their nights on the boat. Once the stations were installed and hidden, they will be left unattended for about six months at a time.

    But the team is confident the stations will do fine by themselves. Ebinger has used the same technology before in the East African rift zone — and those stations were successful.

    In fact, the only harm that has come to any of the Galapagos stations so far was at the hands of a giant tortoise.

    It ate away a station’s plastic.

    The plastic was replaced — and the station better hidden.

    To read more about the research trip go to Lisa Hjelm’s blog at http://sierranegragalapagos.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html.


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