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September 17, 2019
A team of rangers and scientists from the Galapagos National Park Directorate and Galapagos Conservancy recently traveled to Española Island to evaluate its ecological state as part of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI). Their research and management activities included conducting the first complete census of the waved albatross population there as well as a census of giant tortoise and cactus populations on the island.
Preliminary results show that the tortoise and albatross populations have a good rate of reproduction and that, in the case of tortoises, there is recruitment of juveniles within the adult population. Another important finding was that of two new plants of the Erythrina velutina species, a species of native tree of which only one individual was previously known to exist on the island.
According to Washington Tapia, director of the GTRI and scientific advisor to the Park, the situation of cacti is different “since there are less than a thousand adults and subadults registering very little natural regeneration.”
The work done on the island by 10 groups of Park rangers and scientists was complemented by taking high-resolution aerial photographs that will allow for a baseline of Española’s biodiversity, as well as determining the status of populations of endemic species such as Lecocarpus lecocarpoides, a species of flowering plant, which is presumed to have decreased on the island with only small remnants existing on the satellite islets.
Based on a release from the GNPD, translated with their permission.