BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A study published today warns that Darwin’s finches might become extinct in 40 years.
The finches Charles Darwin found in the Galapagos Island played a major role in the naturalist’s development of the evolution theory. They helped him identify the process called specification, which refers to the appearance of new biological species.
But if measures are not taken soon enough, some of us might live to see the beautiful bird become extinct. According to the study, a nest fly called Philornis downsi has been decimating the finch population for about 25 years now. It is believed that the fly made its way to the island with the help of a cargo ship.
There are a few possible solutions to alleviate the situation, and luckily the problem has been identified early enough. The first solution is to reduce the populations of flies by forty percent, which would bring an immediate result. This is a desirable solution since there are many other species in the Galapagos Island that are threatened by the parasitic fly.
Another is to introduce a parasitoid wasp which could bring down the fly populations. The possible obstacles are that the wasp has to be host-specific. Otherwise it might end up feeding on other species as well. But fortunately, parasitoids are very host-specific, sometimes even down to the species.
A third solution propounded is self-fumigation. This implies tricking the birds into using cotton balls sprayed with an insecticide for their nests. The birds would not be affected by it, but the flies would die upon coming into contact with it.
The forth solution involved the introduction of sterile males to the population of flies. The females that reproduced with these males would not produce offspring, and their numbers would reduce.
These solutions were considered in concert with three possible scenarios. In the first one, the finches enjoy optimal breeding and feeding conditions over the next few years. In the second, they will have a rough couple of years. In the third, they have a mixture of good and bad conditions.
Sadly, things turn out well for the birds only in the first scenario. If either the second or third scenarios become a reality, Darwin’s finches will die off in 43 to 57 years or in 65 to 95 years.
Image source: www.upload.wikipedia.org