The mangrove finch that inhabits Isabela Island is an endangered species that is threatened by introduced invasive species such as rats, cats and, especially, the parasitic fly Philornis Downsi, which attacks the finch chicks.
Thanks to the efforts from a group of scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Station and the San Diego Zoo (USA), the population of the Isabela Mangrove finch has increased its population by at least 50% over the last 4 years. The effort included collecting eggs from the nests and incubation in captivity. They then fed the chicks and then released 39 chicks into their natural habitat.
The new plan involves injecting permethrin (chrysanthemum-based insecticide) into the base of finch nests to kill parasitic fly larvae and reduce chick mortality. This component was already used with the nests of Darwin’s gray singing finch on Santa Cruz Island, obtaining favorable results. The aim is to reduce human intervention and for the mangrove finches to incubate and raise their own chicks, said Francesca Cunninghame, who since 2009 manages the Mangrove Finch Project.
This type of bird is the rarest of the thirteen finch varieties investigated by Darwin in the Galápagos in 1837. His study of the finches helped him elaborate his theory on natural selection and evolution of the species.
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