Project: Going, Going, Gone: The gentle slide to extinction of the Vermilion
Flycatcher in Galapagos
Partners: Godfrey Merlen, Galapagos National Park
Status: In Progress
The Vermilion Flycatcher, Pyrocephalus rubinus, is a widely distributed New World species of the Tyrannidae family of birds. It is possible that there are at least 12 forms. IUCN describes the species status as “Least concern,” a categorization that is echoed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birdlife, and the Charles Darwin Foundation.
Nevertheless, there is strong reason to believe that all populations of this species do not fall into the “Least Concern” category, with some populations now extinct or on the verge of extinction–and other populations are now declining. This group of declining populations is scattered among separate islands of the Galapagos Archipelago.
Researchers are currently reviewing the species’ taxonomic status. Some scientists believe that the populations are separate species, based on morphology and skeletal examinations, which would suggest evolutionary processes at work. This project will explore available historic data, especially through the records of dedicated collecting trips, to demonstrate that the species was abundant just a short time ago. It will demonstrate that the declining populations are on inhabited islands, and it will validate that the declines have occurred very rapidly and is a pattern being followed by other bird populations.
Scientists will encourage a strong response by the management and scientific community to address the decline of this species and many others.
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