Bird and gecko species reappear on the Galapagos Islands

A healthy population of geckos once thought extinct was found on Rabida Island. Credit: Steve

Cactus finches and geckos that were once thought extinct on the Galapagos Islands have not only returned there, but are thriving, after invasive predator removal. The black rat (Rattus rattus) and the Norwegian rat (Rattus norvegicus) had been destroying the ecosystems on Pinzon and Rabida Islands in the Galapagos archipelago before scientists began removing the invasive species about 10 years ago. After a technical team led by park rangers recorded plant and animal recovery on the Galapagos Islands this past November, they had frequent sightings of cactus finches (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) on Pinzon Island as well as a healthy population of geckos only known from subfossil records on Rabida Island. Scientists think the geckos had been there all along but there weren’t enough to count. “The management measures implemented on these islands in recent decades have been effective and today we can see the results,” said Danny Rueda Cordova, director of the Galapagos National Park, in a statement. “The islands have once again become the habitat of endemic species of great importance to the ecosystem.”

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