Mosquito Invasion Threatens Galapagos Wildlife

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2009 2:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – Scientists fear that winged invaders could wipe out native species on the islands where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution, the Times of London reports. Mosquitoes have been hitching rides to the Galapagos on incoming aircraft, and now Galapagos species—including iguanas, tortoises, and Darwin's finches—are in serious danger from mosquito-borne diseases they have no resistance to, a new study finds.

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"The animals have evolved in the absence of these diseases, so they have virtually no resistance," warns the lead researcher. "You only need a single infectious mosquito to initiate a disease cycle." Scientists say that authorities must rigorously disinfect all flights, or the Galapagos could face an ecological disaster similar to the 19th-century mosquito invasion of Hawaii, which wiped out dozens of bird species. (Read more Galapagos Islands stories.)

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