Disease-causing organisms and parasites found in Galapagos are a heterogeneous group including, but not limited to, flies, lice, fleas, worms, nematodes, protozoans, fungi, bacteria, yeasts, and viruses.
Some of the organisms are widely known and have been well studied in other locations; most have not. Much remains to be learned about their occurrence and distribution in the archipelago and their impact on Galapagos species and ecosystems.
While some of these organisms have long been elements of Galapagos ecosystems, recent introductions present growing challenges to native and endemic species and the communities that previously evolved with limited contact from outside the archipelago.
Not only have Galapagos native species evolved without defenses against many of these newly introduced disease organisms, but terrestrial and marine communities also experience periodic stresses due to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The presence of new and sometimes aggressive disease organisms increases the pressures on populations already pushed to exhaustion by ENSO events.
The nature and diversity of introduced disease organisms and parasites and the difficulty of their detection mean that extraordinary measures are required in the effort to prevent their entry into Galapagos ecosystems. Once established, it is very difficult to control these organisms.
Editors: Sharon Deem, Gustavo Jiménez-Uzcátegui, Frauke Ziemmeck.
Other Contributors: Patricia G. Parker.
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