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Archipelago-Wide Island Restoration in the Galápagos Islands: Reducing Costs of Invasive Mammal Eradication Programs and Reinvasion Risk

By Victor Carrion, C. Josh Donlan, Karl J. Campbell, Christian Lavoie and Felipe Cruz


Invasive alien mammals are the major driver of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation on islands. Over the past three decades, invasive mammal eradication from islands has become one of society's most powerful tools for preventing extinction of insular endemics and restoring insular ecosystems. As practitioners tackle larger islands for restoration, three factors will heavily influence success and outcomes: the degree of local support, the ability to mitigate for non-target impacts, and the ability to eradicate non-native species more cost-effectively. Investments in removing invasive species, however, must be weighed against the risk of reintroduction. One way to reduce reintroduction risks is to eradicate the target invasive species from an entire archipelago, and thus eliminate readily available sources. We illustrate the costs and benefits of this approach with the efforts to remove invasive goats from the Galápagos Islands. Project Isabela, the world's largest island restoration effort to date, removed >140,000 goats from >500,000 ha for a cost of US$10.5 million. Leveraging the capacity built during Project Isabela, and given that goat reintroductions have been common over the past decade, we implemented an archipelago-wide goat eradication strategy. Feral goats remain on three islands in the archipelago, and removal efforts are underway. Efforts on the Galápagos Islands demonstrate that for some species, island size is no longer the limiting factor with respect to eradication. Rather, bureaucratic processes, financing, political will, and stakeholder approval appear to be the new challenges. Eradication efforts have delivered a suite of biodiversity benefits that are in the process of revealing themselves. The costs of rectifying intentional reintroductions are high in terms of financial and human resources. Reducing the archipelago-wide goat density to low levels is a technical approach to reducing reintroduction risk in the short-term, and is being complemented with a longer-term social approach focused on education and governance

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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