Research Projects


About one third of the 142 species in the family Rallidae are presently threatened with extinction primarily because of habitat invasion by exotic plants and herbivores as well as introduced rodent predators. Particularly imperiled are the rails occupying Pacific Ocean islands. The Galápagos Islands host one such species, the endemic Galápagos Rail ( Laterallus spilonotus ), which originally occurred on the seven major islands with elevation high enough to support humid zone vegetation although a survey conducted in 1986-1987 detected rails on only 4 islands.

In these moist, high elevation areas, the Galápagos Rail prefers fern-sedge areas and Miconia shrublands, and occurs less commonly in Scalesia forest. The Galápagos Rail is a small (40 g), nearly flightless, and very secretive bird endemic to the Galápagos Islands and is threatened by invasive alien plant species and introduced predators. Galápagos Rails are presently found on seven islands, but because complete surveys have not been conducted since the mid-1980's the present status of the species is uncertain.

The primary objectives of this project are to: 1) determine the effects of alien plant invasions on Galápagos Rail ecology, 2) survey the known populations of Galápagos Rails, and 3) develop a population monitoring protocol to track rail population status over time. We will work closely with Galápagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station to integrate the findings of this study into Galápagos Rail habitat management and population monitoring.


© 2006 University of Delaware Entomology & Wildlife Ecology