The current research project will take place on the islets of Champion and Gardner, off the coast of Floreana Island in the Galapagos archipelago. The target species is the Floreana Mockingbird, which has a global population size of approximately 500 individuals and it is threatened by ongoing loss of genetic diversity, and competition and predation by invasive species. The overall aim of this project is to prevent further loss of genetic diversity in the last two remaining subpopulations of the critically endangered Floreana Mockingbird. A secondary aim is to quantify and reduce the predation pressure by the introduced Smooth-billed ani (Crotophaga ani) and the parasitic fly (Philornis downsii) to maximize nesting success. One population of Floreana Mcokingbirds, (Champion islet 10 hectares in size) fluctuates from 25 to 70 individuals, with dry years and predation limiting the reproductive success of breeding pairs. Previous research has shown that this population is highly inbred and harbours valuable genetic diversity not found on the larger Gardner Islet population, some 20 Km away. In order to maximise the genetic diversity of the species in its current geographic range, it is necessary to translate findings from theoretical genetics into applicable conservation management solutions. For instance, should individuals from Champion islet be translocated to Gardner and vice versa in order to increase genetic connectivity at the metapopulation level? If so, how many individuals and how often? Is there a risk of transmitting pathogens between populations? Also, to maximise nest productivity and chick survival, this project aims to implement a trapping scheme for introduced species based on data on predation rates at the nest starting in 2014. Lastly, a pilot project started in December 2013 have provided initial training of park rangers to undertake monitoring activities of adults and nests. The current project will also continue such training and capacity building to equip local stakeholders for ongoing and long-term management of the species.
Project 14258424 location - Ecuador, South America