Friday, November 21, 2008

Identifying non-native plants in the Galapagos

In this morning's New York Times, there is a brief article about non-native plants in the Galapagos.

I posted here a couple of months back an article from the Los Angeles Times about the Ecuadorian government's attempts to limit the number of people living on and travelling to the Galapagos, due to the ecological impact of a growing human population, as well as the non-native flora and fauna that has hitchhiked to the islands.

Today's article is interesting since it shows that many varieties of plants that were thought to be non-native have actually turned out to be native after all. Why the reversal? Because scientists have located fossilized pollen grains of plants previously thought to have been non-native. It turns out that the fossilized pollen, though, is well over 8,000 years old.

This isn't meant to negate the need to protect the unique habitat of these islands, but has given some scientists pause for thought, as well as a new model to use in investigating the history of plant life on other Pacific islands.

Brad Bauer

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