Background


Many Galapagos bird species, including the world-famous Darwin’s finches and the very rare Mangrove finch, Floreana mockingbird, and Medium tree finch, are at risk from the presence in the archipelago of a non-native parasitic fly, Philornis downsi, whose larvae cause very high mortality among nestlings. In addition to direct nestling mortality (up to 100%), studies have confirmed that surviving nestlings often have deformed beaks, reduced growth rates, and anemia. The high mortality and long-term impacts on finch populations from this fly species are of grave conservation concern, especially for endangered and declining species.

Currently there are no techniques available to mitigate the impacts of P. downsi on Galapagos birds. Substantial gaps in the understanding of the life history and ecology of P. downsi has hindered the development of methods to reduce fly numbers. 

In February 2012 a workshop was held to develop a five year research plan (see links in sidebar). Scientists from Ecuador, Austria, Argentina, Australia, Spain, Trinidad, and the USA are working together to find a solution for controlling this invasive fly and reducing its impacts on endangered birds in the Galapagos Islands.

Useful links

http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=1400&fr=1&sts=&lang=EN

                                          (© Charles Darwin Foundation)