Friday, June 12, 2009

Mosquito evolves into threat to Galapagos wildlife

Because I love islands so much...

The Galapagos wildlife faces threat both internally and externally. Externally, the source of the disease would likely be from the rapidly increasing number of tourists to the islands. Once again, scientists worry and warn about the possible affects of human expansion on nature. Internally, scientists recently discovered that one long-established species of black-march mosquitos on the island could act as vessels for external diseases that could cripple the present ecosystem of the island made famous by Darwin. However, at the core of scientists' fear is the pervasiveness and resiliency of the black-marsh mosquitos.

The black-march mosquito is especially lethal. It's diverse diet means it can transmit to mammals, birds, and reptiles a like. Furthermore, its has an acute taste for rare species such as the giant tortoise, marine iguana, and flightless cormorant. Lastly and unlike other mosquitos on the island, it is not confined to one region. The black-marsh mosquito pervades throughout the entire archipelago, from its coasts to the mountain tops, braving the humidity as well as the altitude. Nowhere is safe from them.

These dangerous mosquitos unique to the archipelago are distinct from their relatives on mainland. As mentioned before, it feeds on reptilian blood likely because --scientists hypothesize-- the shortage of birds on the island forces them to acquire new tastes. Genetically, huge differences exist between the two, leading scientists to believe that the black-marsh mosquito is on the verge of divvying off and forming its own species. This comes after 200,000 -as DNA tests suggest-- of living on the island. The black-marsh mosquito is emerging as a new and formidable threat to the island's ecosystem.

Now, my 2-pence. In class we wonder if evolution and specialization is good or bad. In the case of the black-marsh mosquito, it seems to be good, at least for them. They have adapted to the diversity of their environment in a way that grants them an advantageous omnipresence on the island. However, with the introduction of a new environmental factor --human exposure and diseases-- their development has been a means for destruction. Reading about this article has made see a species evolution as a formula. Add or take out some variables, or adjust the ones already there, and what could have been a impressive or benign species turns into the means for nature's destruction. While the formula is extensively elaborate and most of it is out of our control, learning about instances like this makes me realize that we do have a tiny bit of influence but with big implications.


1 comment:

Pedro Ramos Perez said...

The natural diversity of the Galapagos Islands offers wildlife you won't see in other place,
for proper maintenance must be able to combine galapagos island cruises and ecology.