Invasive Parasites and the Fate of Darwin's Finches in the Galapagos Islands: The Case of the Vegetarian Finch (Platyspiza crassirostris)

George E. Heimpel, Alexandra Hillstrom, Deborah Freund, Sarah A. Knutie, Dale H. Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Vegetarian Finch, Platyspiza crassirostris, is a relatively unstudied Darwin's finch that appears to be in decline in the Galapagos Islands. We monitored 11 nests of Vegetarian Finches during 2013 and 2014 on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, and found that 10 of these were infested with an invasive parasitic fly, Philornis downsi. This is the first report of P. downsi attacking this bird species. The number of P. downsi in nests of Vegetarian Finches was higher than for other Darwin's finch species, but nestling mortality was relatively low. We hypothesize that both of these trends may be related to fact that the Vegetarian Finch is one of the largest-bodied species of Darwin's finches. We also consider the conservation implications of P. downsi parasitism for populations of vegetarian finches and other Darwin's finch species in the Galapagos Islands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-349
Number of pages5
JournalWilson Journal of Ornithology
Volume129
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funding from the International Community Foundation (with a grant awarded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust), the National Geographical Society, and the National Science Foundation.

Keywords

  • Darwin's Finches
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Philornis downsi
  • Platyspiza crassirostris
  • Vegetarian Finch

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