Optimizing Risk Management Strategies for the Control of Philornis downsi—A Threat to Birds in the Galápagos Islands

Irene Bueno Padilla, Randall S. Singer, Charles Yoe, Rees Parrish, Dominic A Travis, Julia B. Ponder

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

One of the most concerning threats to Galápagos bird populations, including some critically endangered species, is the invasive parasitic fly Philornis downsi. While long-term sustained solutions are under study, immediate actions are needed to reduce the impacts of this fly. Application of permethrin to birds's nests has been successfully done, but there might be potential long-term reproductive effects to birds. Cyromazine, an insect growth regulator, has been proposed as an alternative, but its risks and effectiveness are unknown. The goal of this study was to assist managers to determine which combination of chemical (permethrin or cyromazine) and mode of application (injection, spray, and self-fumigation) was likely to be most effective to control P. downsi while minimizing toxicity to small land birds in Galápagos, given data available and high levels of uncertainty in some cases. This study is presented as a semi-quantitative risk assessment employing the use of a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) model. For the six potential alternatives resulting from the combination of chemical and mode of application, the criteria were given a score from 1 to 6 supported by available evidence from the literature and from expert opinion. In addition, three different scenarios with different sets of weights for each criterion were assessed with stakeholder's input. Considering the scenario with higher weight to effectiveness of the method against P. downsi while also weighing heavily to minimize the toxicity to birds, cyromazine spray followed by permethrin injection were the preferred strategies. Self-fumigation was the mode of application with highest uncertainty but with much potential to be further explored for its feasibility. The approach taken here to evaluate mitigation strategies against an important threat for avian species in Galápagos can also be used in other conservation programs when making real time decisions under uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number721892
JournalFrontiers in Conservation Science
Volume2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was carried out for the Charles Darwin Foundation on behalf of the Galapagos National Park Directorate and the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency with a grant from the Galapagos Invasive Species Fund. This publication is contribution number 2413 of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. We would like to thank Drs. Charlotte Causton and Birgit Fessl (Charles Darwin Foundation) for their ongoing support and feedback. We would also like to thank all the experts who provided information for this project. We are particularly thankful to Dr. Mark D. Jankowski, ecotoxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for his input. Funding. This work was supported by the Galápagos Invasive Species Fund and the Galápagos Conservancy. The funding sources did not have any involvement in the study design, analysis, preparation, or submission of this manuscript.

Funding Information:
This research was carried out for the Charles Darwin Foundation on behalf of the Galapagos National Park Directorate and the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency with a grant from the Galapagos Invasive Species Fund. This publication is contribution number 2413 of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. We would like to thank Drs. Charlotte Causton and Birgit Fessl (Charles Darwin Foundation) for their ongoing support and feedback. We would also like to thank all the experts who provided information for this project. We are particularly thankful to Dr. Mark D. Jankowski, ecotoxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for his input.

Funding Information:
This work was part of a consultancy for the Charles Darwin Foundation on behalf of the Galapagos National Park Directorate. The consultancy was financed with support from the Galapagos Invasive Species Fund and Galapagos Conservancy. Name of the Consultancy: “Consultant to analyse risks of using Cyromazine to control an invasive parasitic fly in bird nests.” https://www.darwinfoundation.org/images/vacantes/emp_con_cyromazina_en.pdf . The funding sources did not have any involvement in the study design, analysis, preparation, or submission of this manuscript. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Funding Information:
Funding. This work was supported by the Galápagos Invasive Species Fund and the Galápagos Conservancy. The funding sources did not have any involvement in the study design, analysis, preparation, or submission of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Bueno, Singer, Yoe, Parrish, Travis and Ponder.

Keywords

  • birds
  • cyromazine
  • Galápagos
  • multi-criteria decision analysis
  • nest parasite
  • risk analysis

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