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Ecological monitoring in Baltra and North Seymour Islands

Ecological monitoring in Baltra and North Seymour Islands

An international team of 30 scientists, including Galapagos Conservancy park rangers and Charles Darwin Foundation scientists, examined 6770 acres between Baltra Island and North Seymour Islands in order to determine the status of various ecosystem engineering species, such as Land Iguanas and cacti. These species play an integral role in maintaining the health of their habitats.

These intensive fieldwork results will enable the Galapagos National Park Directorate to make informed management decisions in order to ensure, for North Seymour and Baltra, the preservation of the island’s ecological integrity, as well as direct the restoration process.

Washington Tapia (General Director of Galapagos Conservancy) stated that similar work had been done ten years back, but that it was a limited census that focused on Land Iguanas. “Now several plant species have now been incorporated that are essential for their role in this ecosystem of these islands. Knowing their status will enable us to make more specific recommendations for their management,” said he.

Land iguana
Land Iguana © Xavier Castro/Galápagos Conservancy

Dr. James Gibbs is Vice President of Science and Conservation of Galapagos Conservancy. He highlighted the recovery in the Land Iguanas population () on Baltra Island with an estimated population of approximately 2,467 individuals. On North Seymour, a population of at most 3,930 iguanas has been estimated.

Gibbs stated that the success of Baltra Island’s iguana recovery — which was extinct until a few years ago — was due to the conservation efforts by the GNPD and other entities like the Charles Darwin Foundation.

Iniciativa Galapagos is a joint initiative of the Galapagos Conservancy, the Galapagos National Park Directorate, and aims to monitor ecosystem engineering species and restore the integrity of the Galapagos archipelago’s ecosystems.