There are some small birds in the world that helped people understand evolution but now Darwin’s finches face parasite danger and extinction.
Darwin’s theory of evolution is one of the best things science has given us and it still stands as the standard for everything we might discover new about life. He studied many species and he had much of his focus on animals in the Galapagos such as the giant tortoises. In time, just as the giant Galapagos tortoises, many animals Darwin studied became extinct and now the finches he studied are in danger.
What endangers the finches
It looks like a parasitic fly is slowly bringing down the finch population. Although it is a very concerning issue, scientists believe there are ways to save the birds. The parasites nests and lays eggs in the birds’ nest and when the parasite babies come to live they feed on the birds’ babies which are very small.
Solutions to the problem
One of the solutions scientists came up with was to introduce on the islands another type of parasite that would attack the flies. More specifically, they were thinking about a parasitoid wasp. These wasps are very dangerous because they most often consume their host and the process of introducing them to the island could be very invasive. They have to be very careful on what type of wasp they introduce as they could risk putting other species if insects into jeopardy. However, parasitoids are host-specific, so they could somehow manage to make them destroy only the flies which are disturbing Darwin’s birds.
Another solution is to help birds take care of themselves. These small birds usually use very soft materials for their nests. This is why, if scientists would leave some cotton balls nearby, the birds will surely pick them up. The cotton balls would be sprayed with an insecticide that’s safe for the birds but could protect them efficiently from the parasites which are trying to take over their nests.
They are also trying to reduce the population of the parasites by introducing sterile males which will result in a lack of parasitic fly babies. Although the process of saving the birds is quite difficult, scientists estimate that a 40% reduction of the infestation could be enough to save the finches.
Studying and trying to save these birds doesn’t only help finding more about them but it also sheds some more light on the way parasites develop and act.
Image source: www.bing.com