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Posts Tagged ‘San Cristobal Flycatcher’

A sad landmark has been reached.

A fellow species has fallen.

Let us each take a quiet moment to consider what we have lost.

Pyrocephalus dubius 2

A male San Cristobal Flycatcher

The landmark that has been reached is the first extinction of an endemic Galapagos bird species. For a long time, many species of animals found on the Galapagos Islands, and no where else on earth, have been declining. Biologists have warned for years that if dramatic steps are not taken, many of these species will go extinct and the ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands will be impoverished forever. Exactly this has now happened. The San Cristobal Flychatcher (Pyrocephalus dubius) is the first species to fall. Found only on a couple of the Galapagos Islands, this stunning flycatcher used to be thought of as a subspecies of the more widely distributed Vermillion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus). Recent studies, however, have shown that it and the Galapagos Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus nanus), also a former subspecies of the Vermillion, both warranted elevation to full species status. And now, surveys of the islands have found that there are no San Cristobal Flycatchers to be seen.

Pyrocephalus dubius 1

A female San Cristobal Flycatcher

The reason for this tragic loss is not completely known, but it is likely due in part to invasive Brown and Black Rats and in part to the parasitic fly Philornis downsi. The rats have been transported to the islands unintentionally by humans. They climb up trees and eat the eggs out of the nests of many songbird species. The flies were another accidental introduction to the islands by humans when their eggs were brought to the islands on imported fruit. The fly larva infect nestling songbirds feeding on blood and tissue. Infestations frequently become severe enough to kill the nestlings.

How many more species will go extinct before sufficient actions are taken? How many more species can go extinct before the ecosystems of these fragile islands collapse into a ghost of their former selves?

I leave that to your consideration.

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