In September 2022 we were able to invite our members, their guests, and interested parties to an interesting lecture on Invasive Species, in the cinema hall of the Zoological Museum of the University of Zurich.
Many participants already knew the biologist and ecologist Dr. Heinke Jäger through our Zoom events and from reports in Galápagos Intern. Dr. Jäger has been living on Santa Cruz Island for 24 years, where she works with invasive plant and animal species as part of the team at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
Dr. Jäger quickly managed to captivate the numerous visitors to the event with her charming manner and lively storytelling. She gave a very vivid account of the damage caused by introduced species in the Galápagos Islands.
We learned that the red cinchona tree, although beautiful in appearance, alters the microclimate in its environment, as fog condenses on its leaves and it is therefore very humid under the trees. This is a big problem for endemic plants such as the Miconia shrub, because. the soil underneath becomes too moist or they lack sunlight. Therefore, the cinchona trees were able to spread unhindered. Fortunately, another introduced organism then brought the saving help. It was a fungus that had attacked the roots of the cinchona trees. This reduced the spread of the trees, but it remains to be seen whether this fungus will continue to damage only the invasive trees in the long term. Heinke also vividly presented the problems of the invasive blackberries and the consequences for the small songbirds.
During the subsequent aperitif, the participants had the opportunity to question Dr. Jäger in detail. Many of the participants were surprised that the work of the scientists on Galápagos is so long and often a repetitive activity with only small steps of success, which can extend over years and in which there are also often setbacks.