Introduced Species in the Galápagos

La Paz Group

Feral goats on Isabela Island. Photo by Galápagos National Park Service.

Yesterday I wrote about the case of the North American beaver being purposefully introduced to Argentinian Patagonia for a business venture and having severe unintended consequences on the environment in both Chile and Argentina. Most of us think of Patagonia as a pretty faraway and isolated place, and its location so far down the southern hemisphere merits that. The Galápagos Islands are another place geographically apart from most of us–that distance accounts for the specialized evolution that took place in the archipelago over millennia.

The isolation of the Galápagos from the rest of the world for so long, and the relatively small size of the islands, means that it is especially vulnerable to opportunistic species that can become invasive. In the same way that the Canadian beavers had no natural predators in Patagonia, common domesticated goats, when introduced to…

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