Luis Ortiz-Catedral joins the Floreana Mockingbird Reintroduction Program. Photo by Mary Witoshynsky
The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) welcomes Luis Ortiz-Catedral whose mission will be to define and advance the second phase of the Floreana mockingbird (Mimus trifasciatus) reintroduction program.
Mr. Ortiz-Catedral, a Mexican national, developed his expertise in bird translocation with the renowned Ecology and Conservation Group of the Massey University Institute of Natural Sciences in New Zealand during his PhD studies. In conjunction with the CDF, the Galápagos National Park, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the University of Zurich, he will apply his skills in order to expand the range of the highly-threatened Floreana mockingbird. This reintroduction program is one element of CDF’s Floreana Initiative, a ground-breaking comprehensive island-wide restoration and development program designed to link biological research with social science, integrate environmental education into traditional curricula, and to unite ecosystem restoration with sustainable livelihoods.
Intrigued by the parallels between the Floreana mockingbird and the kakariki (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae), a species of parrot which he successfully reintroduced to the inner Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand, Mr. Ortiz-Catedral comes well-prepared to take up his new task. As he explains, both birds were extirpated from their principal island ranges over 100 years ago yet continue to survive in very small numbers on satellite islets. In the case of Galápagos, Mr. Ortiz-Catedral explains that: “The Floreana mockingbird population on the islet of Gardner-by-Floreana appears to have increased in numbers in recent years, making this a prime opportunity to fill in information gaps about the biology of the species, which is the foundation to elaborate a strategy to reintroduce these birds to their former home.”
Together with planning and preparation for the biological aspects of the program, Mr. Ortiz-Catedral relates that, as was the case with the kakariki in New Zealand, an important component of his work will involve interaction with all 120 residents of Floreana in order to generate and maintain enthusiasm for the reintroduction of this emblematic bird.