Ecological restoration of the South Plaza, Opuntia echios

Ecological restoration of the South Plaza, Opuntia echios

Evaluation of the biotic and abiotic factors that affect the restoration of Opuntia echios var. echios on Plaza Sur Island, with Plaza Norte Island as an ecological reference PC-38-22

This project is currently Active

Plaza Sur, despite being one of the smallest islands of the archipelago, has become an iconic tourist destination due to its extraordinary flora and fauna. Among its main attractions are land iguanas and Opuntia cacti. Unfortunately, the Opuntia echios var. echios population has been affected by a combination of several events, such as introduced rodents, pressure from herbivores such as native iguanas, and extreme weather events such as El Niño and La Niña. In addition, an understudied factor is soil properties and their effect on the O. echios population. This is why GV2050 initiated restoration efforts in 2013, obtaining valuable results on the effectiveness of using water-saving technologies for O. echios restoration. Currently, the project is focused on the ecological restoration of Plaza Sur, through the restoration of the population of Opuntia echios var. echios using the island of Plaza Norte as a reference ecosystem.

Our Research Team

Patricia Jaramillo Díaz

Principal Investigator

Patricia is an Ecuadorian researcher who came to Galapagos in 1996 to work on her PhD thesis about the “human impact on native, endemic and introduced flora on the Galapagos Islands” and since...

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Anna Calle

Project Assistant

Anna has always been fascinated by the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon rainforest. Her desire to protect these unique ecosystems motivated her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in...

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Pavel Enríquez-Moncayo

Project Assistant

Pavel has always admired the people behind the great scientific discoveries both in his home, the Galapagos, as well as worldwide. Further, growing up in the "Enchanted Islands" allowed him to...

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Jhon Hamilton Chango

Field Assistant

Jhon was born on Floreana, the first island colonized by people in the Galapagos Archipelago and, paradoxically, the one with the smallest population. This particularity allowed nature to be an...

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Paúl Mayorga

Field Assistant

I was born and raised in these "Enchanted Islands", which meant from a young age I was naturally immersed in the conservation of the place where I live. Growing up with relatively little technology...

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Project Details

Figura19 gv2050 enFigure 19. Geographical location of the three study sites and seedlings of Opuntia echios var. echios on Plaza Sur Island.

Our results

As part of the results of this project, we expect to answer the following questions: 1) Does the amount of water added at the time of planting influence Opuntia survival? 2) Although it does not have land iguanas, is Plaza Norte a suitable reference ecosystem for Plaza Sur? 3) Do land iguanas create strong effects on natural restoration of Opuntia echios var. echios on Plaza Sur Island compared to Plaza Norte which has no land iguanas? 4) Do iguanas effectively disperse the seeds of cacti and other species present on Plaza Sur, and is the main element of the diet of land iguanas only the few remaining cacti on Plaza Sur? 5) Are particular soil properties associated with increased Opuntia restoration? 6) Are there any nutrient deficiencies or toxic elements associated with Opuntia on the two islands, and are these stress factors affecting the observed differential patterns of restoration?


Figure 20. The ecosystem of Plaza Norte.



See video history about Opuntia virtual


Read more about our project on Plaza Sur island (blogs):

Galapagos Verde 2050: Bringing ecological integrity back to South Plaza

Ecological Restoration in Action: Plaza Sur, a Thorny Surprise

Galapagos Verde 2050 Continues Contributing to Ecological Restoration of South Plaza

Keywords: Plaza Sur, Opuntia echios, water saving, ecological restoration, water scarcity, threatened species, Groasis, Hydrogel

Bibliographical References

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