Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1073–1082

On the urgency of conservation on Guadalupe Island, Mexico: is it a lost paradise?

  • José Luis León de la Luz
  • Jon P. Rebman
  • Thomas Oberbauer
Article

Abstract

Guadalupe is an oceanic island located in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico's northwest coast. Its flora is composed of many plant species with more northern affinities and disjunctions from the California Floristic Province. Almost 16% of the native plant species are endemic, including two monospecific genera. However, the activities of feral goats released in the early 19th century have devastated most of the island. At present, at least 26 native plant species have disappeared from Guadalupe and many more seem to be on the threshold. To add to the problem, 61 exotic plant species have been documented on the island, many of which are aggressive weeds. In this paper, we propose eight types of environmental conditions for the island where different species assemblages of the pristine flora probably existed before their demise. It is of obvious urgency that the island needs a recovery plan and the first step should include the eradication of the feral goats. Only after this process can subsequent conservation measures be applied to ensure any restoration of this natural heritage. The recovery plan will need to address both spontaneous and human-induced plant repopulation processes from the main island's three southern islets, which have never been impacted by goats. Also, it may be necessary to reintroduce non-endemic, native plant taxa from the nearest Californian islands and the Mexican coast in order to reestablish some of the island's original diversity of plant species and communities. However, it should be noted that the forested communities do not have great hopes of recovering in the short term, since the ground water and soil conditions have been significantly altered. Furthermore, the eradication of an estimated 4000 goats still living on the island (year 2000) depends upon the vacillating motivation and will of Mexican authorities.

Baja California Exotics Goats Guadalupe Island Plant extinction 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Berdegué A.J. 1957. La isla Guadalupe, México: Contribución al conocimiento de los recursos naturales renovables. Secretaría de Marina. Dirección General de Pesca e Industrias Conexas, México, 67 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Hubbs C.L. and Jehl J.R. Jr 1976. Remains of Pleistocene birds from isla de Guadalupe. Condor 78: 421–422.Google Scholar
  3. Hubbs C.L. and Rechnitzer A.R. 1958. A new fish, Chaetodon falcifer, from Guadalupe island, Baja California, with notes on related species. Proceedings of the Californian Academy of Science Ser. 4 29: 273–313.Google Scholar
  4. Kurki S., Nikula A., Helle P. and Lindén H. 2000. Landscape fragmentation and forest composition effects on breeding success in boreal forests. Ecology 81: 1985–1997.Google Scholar
  5. Libby W.J., Bannister M.H. and Linhart Y.B. 1968. The pines of Cedros and Guadalupe Islands. Journal of Forestry 66: 846–853.Google Scholar
  6. Moran R.V. 1996. The flora of Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Memoirs of the California Academy of Science 19: 190.Google Scholar
  7. Wehtje W. 1994. Response of a Bishop Pine (Pinus muricata) population to removal of feral sheep in Santa Cruz Island, California. In: Halvorson W.L. and Meaner G.J. (eds), The Fourth California Islands Symposium: Update on the Status of Resources., pp. 331–340.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Luis León de la Luz
  • Jon P. Rebman
  • Thomas Oberbauer

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations