Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 461–480 | Cite as

Current status of alien vertebrates in the Galápagos Islands: invasion history, distribution, and potential impacts

  • R. Brand Phillips
  • David A. Wiedenfeld
  • Howard L. Snell
Original Paper


Human activity has promoted the invasion of the Galápagos Islands by alien species from each of the five classes of vertebrates. We review the current distribution of alien vertebrates in the archipelago, their impacts on native species, and management efforts aimed at alien vertebrates. A total of 44 species have been reported in the archipelago, with 20 species establishing feral populations. Mammals were the first group arriving in the archipelago and remain the most numerous, with 10 established species. Alien birds invaded after mammals and four species have established populations. Reptiles, amphibians, and fish invaded later and are represented by three, one, and two species, respectively. Alien mammals are the most injurious to native biota, contributing to the decline or extinction of several species. Aside from mammals, no other class of alien vertebrate has had documented impacts on native species. Several populations of large and medium-sized mammals and birds have been eradicated.


Alien impacts Alien vertebrates Galápagos Islands Invasion history Review 



We thank F. Azuero, E. Cadena, W. Espinosa, C. Gaona, F. Gaona, and R. Jiménez (GNPS and CDRS) for field assistance. C. W. Edwards and R. C. Dowler contributed data on rodent distribution. J. H. Brown and an anonymous reviewer provided helpful comments that improved the manuscript. Fieldwork was supported by grants from the United Nations Foundation via the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Center, Frankfurt Zoological Society, the Global Environmental Facility via the World Bank, and Fundación Natura. Support was also provided by the Charles Darwin Foundation and the University of New Mexico.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Brand Phillips
    • 1
    • 2
  • David A. Wiedenfeld
    • 1
    • 3
  • Howard L. Snell
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Charles Darwin Research StationPuerto AyoraEcuador
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  3. 3.WarrentonUSA

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