Juan Fernández National Park is located 400 miles west of Santiago, Chile. This volcanic archipelago became a national park in 1935 and a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1977. Two of the islands—Alexander Selkirk and Robinson Crusoe—are named for the sailor and his fictional alter-ego.
he International Union for Conservation of Nature, BirdLife International, the Alliance for Zero Extinction, and the World Wildlife Fund highlight the islands of the Juan Fernández Archipelago as one of the most ecologically vulnerable ecosystems in the world. The islands are sixty-one times richer in endemic plant species per square kilometer and thirteen times greater in endemic bird richness than the Galápagos. Few people live here, largely fishermen and their families: only 700 people live on Robinson Crusoe; 30 seasonal lobster fishermen visit Alejandro Selkirk a year.
Invasive, non-native goats, rabbits, coatis, feral cats, mice, and rats present on the islands are destroying native plant and animal populations. IC and our partners are working to remove invasive species from the Juan Fernández Archipelago; we anticipate complete removal by 2020. IC will work with Chilean resource agencies to conduct environmental education and community-based activities to gain local support for the restoration of these biologically important islands.
1. WHAT NATIVE WILDLIFE IS FOUND HERE?
The islands host fifteen resident/breeding bird species, six of which are globally threatened, and 131 endemic plant species, of which 96 are globally threatened. More than 440 endemic invertebrate species, three endemic land-bird species, and the endemic Juan Fernández fur seal depend on these islands for their existence.
2. WHAT IS THE GOAL OF RESTORATION?
The goal is to save all of the plant and animal populations native to the Juan Fernández Islands, like the Critically Endangered Juan Fernández Firecrown and the Masafuera Rayadito, from extinction.
Photo: P. Hodum
3. HOW DO YOU MEASURE RESULTS?
IC, University of California, Santa Cruz and partners monitor changes in native populations before and after removal of invasive species. Innovative techniques, such as acoustic monitoring, allow us to look at population trends and the presence or absence of native species. Targets for recovery include native plants, hummingbirds, passerines, and seabirds.
4. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPERILED BIRD ON THE JUAN FERNÁNDEZ ISLANDS?
Robinson Crusoe Island hosts the world’s only endemic hummingbird from an oceanic island. The Critically Endangered Juan Fernández Firecrown depends on the island’s native forests to survive.
5. WILL WE SEE A RETURN OF CURRENTLY ABSENT SEABIRDS TO THE ISLANDS?
The Vulnerable De Filippi’s Petrel currently breeds on only three islands in the world: Santa Clara in the Juan Fernández Islands and two islands in Chile’s Desventuradas. It previously bred on Robinson Crusoe, but was wiped out by invasive species. By removing the invaders, IC expects the petrels’ return to Robinson Crusoe.
To save native animal and plant species from extinction on the Juan Fernández Islands by removing invasive species.
The islands’ seabird and land-bird populations are stable and thriving, and native vegetation is restored.
Invasive species devour the islands’ vegetation and directly prey on native bird species, including many found only here (endemic).
Island Conservation, together with CONAF (Chile’s Protected Areas and Forests agency), Chilean Environment Ministry, local NGOs community leaders, and scientists will remove invasive species.
By monitoring native wildlife and vegetation pre- and post-removal of invasive species, partners can track the native plants’ and animals’ recovery.
Maddy received her AB cum laude in biology and Romance languages from Bowdoin College. After graduating, she taught English at an engineering school in Nantes, France. Maddy spent her summers working seasonal field jobs in remote areas of Mexico, Maine, and the Canadian Maritimes. After deciding to pursue ecology full time, she spent a number of months working in Mauritius to protect the Endangered Pink Pigeon from the threat of invasive species. Maddy’s combined passions for unique species, islands, and foreign languages make her an invaluable component of the Island Conservation team. Maddy loves to get out and observe plants and animals in the wild while camping, hiking, or kayaking. When confined to more urban settings, she enjoys biking, baking, and making a strong cup of tea.