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Adapting to Climate Change in the Galápagos Islands

Adapting to Climate Change in the Galápagos Islands

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<strong>Adapt<strong>in</strong>g</strong> <strong>to</strong><strong>Climate</strong><strong>Change</strong> <strong>in</strong><strong>the</strong> Galápagos<strong>Islands</strong>


Every several years, ElNiño conditions hit <strong>the</strong>Galápagos <strong>Islands</strong> and<strong>the</strong> archipelago gets aglimpse <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> its future:Temperatures rise, ra<strong>in</strong>fall <strong>in</strong>creases,ocean currents shift, and much of <strong>the</strong>islands’ wildlife struggles <strong>to</strong> cope with<strong>the</strong>se conditions. Dur<strong>in</strong>g past strongEl Niño years, <strong>the</strong> populations of someof <strong>the</strong> islands’ most iconic species—<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g mar<strong>in</strong>e iguanas, sea lions,and pengu<strong>in</strong>s—plummeted by 50 percen<strong>to</strong>r more. The response of <strong>the</strong>sespecies <strong>to</strong> El Niño, can be used <strong>to</strong> understand<strong>the</strong> effects of climate change<strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagos. Current scenariospredict that <strong>the</strong> future Galápagos climatewill br<strong>in</strong>g similar but prolongedand more <strong>in</strong>tense conditions of thosecaused by El Niño events by <strong>the</strong> end of<strong>the</strong> century.In this scenario, it is critical <strong>to</strong> understandfuture climate conditions <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>Galápagos, and <strong>to</strong> identify immediateadaptation strategies <strong>to</strong> ensure speciesand ecosystems can survive and cont<strong>in</strong>ue<strong>to</strong> provide goods and servicesfor <strong>the</strong> benefit of <strong>the</strong> people of <strong>the</strong>Galápagos.To address <strong>the</strong> vulnerability of <strong>the</strong>Galápagos <strong>to</strong> climate change andclimate adaptation needs, <strong>the</strong> governmen<strong>to</strong>f Ecuador is now creat<strong>in</strong>g a nationaladaptation strategy, withspecial focus on <strong>the</strong> Galápagos <strong>Islands</strong>.This strategy will not only protect <strong>the</strong>islands’ vital resources, but will alsoserve as a model of adaptation plann<strong>in</strong>gglobally.EUNICE PARK / WWF


The Galápagos <strong>Climate</strong>Some 600 miles off <strong>the</strong> coast ofEcuador, a volcanic hotspot <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> PacificOcean created <strong>the</strong> Galápagos <strong>Islands</strong>,which <strong>to</strong>day consist of 13 largeislands and over 100 smaller islands,islets, and rocks. The islands’ uniquearray of life is made possible by a complexmix of oceanic currents that br<strong>in</strong>gboth warm nutrient-rich and cold water<strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands. Warm currents allowmangrove forests, coral reefs, and o<strong>the</strong>rtropical mar<strong>in</strong>e environments <strong>to</strong> flourish.At <strong>the</strong> same time, a cold, deepwatercurrent creates an upwell<strong>in</strong>gsystem that fuels a productive foodcha<strong>in</strong> that culm<strong>in</strong>ates with animalssuch as sea lions, sharks, and pengu<strong>in</strong>s.The islands also are home <strong>to</strong> a thriv<strong>in</strong>g—andgrow<strong>in</strong>g—human population,almost all of whom depend on <strong>the</strong> islands’biodiversity for <strong>the</strong>ir economicsecurity. Tourism is <strong>the</strong>islands’ most significant<strong>in</strong>dustry, andvirtually all of <strong>the</strong>islands’ <strong>to</strong>uristsvisit <strong>to</strong> viewwildlife.To protect <strong>the</strong> islands’mar<strong>in</strong>e diversity,<strong>the</strong>Ecuadorian governmenthas established <strong>the</strong> GalápagosMar<strong>in</strong>e Reserve, a protected area thatspans over 83,125 square miles ofocean surround<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> islands and isone of <strong>the</strong> largest mar<strong>in</strong>e reserves <strong>in</strong><strong>the</strong> world. About 20 percent of <strong>the</strong>nearly 3,000 species that live <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> reserveare endemic.On land, <strong>the</strong> Galápagos also house alarge number of endemic species thatare well adapted <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands’ uniqueclimate. Seasonal wea<strong>the</strong>r patterns <strong>in</strong><strong>the</strong> islands shift between a cool seasonfrom June <strong>to</strong> December and a hot seasonfrom January <strong>to</strong> May. Dur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>cool season, most of <strong>the</strong> limited moistureis generated from a misty fogcalled garúa. The hot season is alsora<strong>in</strong>y.Every several years, however, everyth<strong>in</strong>gchanges with <strong>the</strong> onset of ElNiño conditions. W<strong>in</strong>d patterns andocean currents shift, and <strong>the</strong> Galápagosexperience a rapid change <strong>in</strong> climatethat leaves many speciesstruggl<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> adapt (see <strong>in</strong>set“El Niño: A Case Study <strong>in</strong><strong>Climate</strong> <strong>Change</strong>”). Unfortunately,<strong>the</strong> effects of globalclimate change are expected<strong>to</strong> mirror <strong>the</strong> effectsof El Niño events <strong>in</strong>many ways.JEAN CLAUDE CONSTANT


Accelerat<strong>in</strong>g ThreatsAs it has <strong>in</strong> many o<strong>the</strong>r parts of <strong>the</strong>world, <strong>the</strong> explosive growth ofhuman activity <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagoshas taken a <strong>to</strong>ll on native wildlife.Pollution levels have risen dramatically,while native habitats are on<strong>the</strong> decl<strong>in</strong>e. Native Scalesia pedunculataforests <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> island’s humidzone, for example, have alreadybeen so severely reduced that onlya few hundred hectares rema<strong>in</strong>.Threats are also cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> <strong>in</strong>crease<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> ocean. Although <strong>the</strong>Galápagos Special Law, passed <strong>in</strong>1998, limited fish<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> GalápagosMar<strong>in</strong>e Reserve, enforcement of<strong>the</strong> law is weak, and overfish<strong>in</strong>g hasbecome a major threat. Almost all of<strong>the</strong> Galápagos commercially importantcoastal speciesare overfished(e.g. sea cucumber),and <strong>the</strong>status of offshorespeciesis largely unknown.While <strong>the</strong>se problems represent significantthreats <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands, perhaps<strong>the</strong> greatest threat <strong>to</strong> life <strong>in</strong><strong>the</strong> Galápagos is <strong>in</strong>troduced species.The grow<strong>in</strong>g number of <strong>to</strong>urists andresidents <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands, transportedby boats and planes, <strong>in</strong>advertentlycarry new species which outcompeteendemic ones or alter <strong>the</strong> balance of<strong>the</strong> Galápagos ecosystems.For example, <strong>in</strong>vasive fire ants no<strong>to</strong>nly have displaced native <strong>in</strong>sectspecies, but also have been observedattack<strong>in</strong>g native wildlife such as seaturtle hatchl<strong>in</strong>gs. Today, nearlyone-quarter of <strong>in</strong>sects <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagosare <strong>in</strong>troduced, and <strong>in</strong>vasiveplant species on <strong>the</strong> islands nowoutnumber native species.Unfortunately, climate change no<strong>to</strong>nly represents a new and dist<strong>in</strong>ctthreat <strong>to</strong> life <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands, but italso will accelerate <strong>the</strong> exist<strong>in</strong>gthreats <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands, amplify<strong>in</strong>galready challeng<strong>in</strong>g conditions.EUNICE PARK / WWFAdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds │ 5


What is likely <strong>to</strong> happen this century?higher Average Air Temperature:The Intergovernmental Panel on <strong>Climate</strong><strong>Change</strong> (IPCC) estimates thatglobal average temperatures likelywill <strong>in</strong>crease 3.2 <strong>to</strong> 7.2°F (1.8-4.0°C) by<strong>the</strong> end of <strong>the</strong> 21st century (relative <strong>to</strong><strong>the</strong> average temperature <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>1980s). Because <strong>the</strong> Galápagos are locatedat <strong>the</strong> Equa<strong>to</strong>r and surroundedby ocean, <strong>the</strong> islands likely will warmby at least <strong>the</strong> global average. Basedon current commitments <strong>to</strong> warm<strong>in</strong>g,this almost certa<strong>in</strong>ly means a warm<strong>in</strong>gof at least 3.6°F (2°C).higher sea surface Temperature:The temperature of <strong>the</strong> upper layers of<strong>the</strong> ocean is ris<strong>in</strong>g as <strong>the</strong> ocean absorbs<strong>the</strong> excess heat <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> atmosphere.In 2009, <strong>the</strong> average globalocean surface temperature tied with2002 and 2004 as <strong>the</strong> fourth warmes<strong>to</strong>n record, at 0.48°C above <strong>the</strong> 20thcentury average. Waters surround<strong>in</strong>g<strong>the</strong> Galápagos are also expected <strong>to</strong>warm, both as a result of ris<strong>in</strong>g airtemperatures and possible changes <strong>in</strong>ocean currents.<strong>in</strong>creased Ra<strong>in</strong>fall: Warm<strong>in</strong>g temperatureslikely will result <strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>crease<strong>in</strong> ra<strong>in</strong>fall <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagos.The projected future pattern of ra<strong>in</strong>fall<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagos is similar <strong>to</strong> thatseen <strong>in</strong> El Niño years. Data <strong>in</strong>dicatethat <strong>the</strong> islands’ hot ra<strong>in</strong>y season alreadyhas begun <strong>to</strong> graduallyleng<strong>the</strong>n.sea level Rise: Data <strong>in</strong>dicate that<strong>the</strong> sea level <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands could riseby approximately one meter by <strong>the</strong>end of <strong>the</strong> century. The net effect ofsea level rise on each island is difficult<strong>to</strong> predict because volcanic activity iscaus<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> land on some of <strong>the</strong> islands<strong>to</strong> rise (which would lower <strong>the</strong>impact of sea level rise) while land ono<strong>the</strong>r islands is subsid<strong>in</strong>g (whichwould <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>the</strong> impact of sea levelrise). More research is needed <strong>to</strong> determ<strong>in</strong>e<strong>the</strong> overall potential impact ofsea level rise on <strong>the</strong> Galápagos.ocean Acidification: About a thirdof <strong>the</strong> carbon dioxide that humanshave added <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> atmosphere hasbeen taken up by <strong>the</strong> world’s oceans,caus<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>m <strong>to</strong> become more acidic.The IPCC estimates that by <strong>the</strong> end of<strong>the</strong> century, <strong>the</strong> ocean’s average pHwill drop 0.14 <strong>to</strong> 0.35 units. Theprocess of ocean acidification impactsreef-build<strong>in</strong>g corals, with consequencesfor <strong>the</strong>ir growth and survival.This will likely cause a loss <strong>in</strong> biodiversityfor <strong>the</strong> Galápagos.As a result of <strong>the</strong>se changes, climatescientists predict that <strong>the</strong> future Galápagosclimate, on average, is likely <strong>to</strong>be more like what is now described asEl Niño conditions. Around this newaverage, variability could <strong>in</strong>cludelarger extremes, with El Niño conditionsthat are much more frequent or<strong>in</strong>tense than <strong>the</strong>y are <strong>to</strong>day.6 │ AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds


El Niño:A Case Study on <strong>Climate</strong> <strong>Change</strong>Large-scale, rapid changes <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>Galápagos climate already occur periodicallywith <strong>the</strong> onset of El Niñoconditions every 2–8 years, whenw<strong>in</strong>d patterns and ocean currentsshift <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Pacific Ocean. BecauseEl Niño br<strong>in</strong>gs many of <strong>the</strong> samechanges that climate change couldcause, scientists use it as one <strong>to</strong>ol <strong>to</strong>help predict how climate changecould affect <strong>the</strong> islands.In <strong>the</strong> ocean, El Niño causes asharp reduction <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> cold-waterupwell<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> western part of <strong>the</strong>islands. Warm waters replace productivecold waters that normallyoccur with <strong>the</strong> upwell<strong>in</strong>g, and without<strong>the</strong> current’s rich nutrients, <strong>the</strong>food cha<strong>in</strong> quickly breaks down.The El Niño events of 1982-1983and 1997-1998 were <strong>the</strong> most<strong>in</strong>tense on record, and <strong>the</strong> effectson mar<strong>in</strong>e species werestagger<strong>in</strong>g:• mar<strong>in</strong>e iguana populationsdecl<strong>in</strong>ed up <strong>to</strong> 90percent• sea lions decl<strong>in</strong>ed by 50percent• fur seals lost nearly all youngunder three years• pengu<strong>in</strong>s suffered populationlosses of more than75 percent• flightless cormorant numbersdecl<strong>in</strong>ed by nearly half• blue-footed booby breed<strong>in</strong>gcolonies were entirely abandoned.At <strong>the</strong> same time, El Niño causes adramatic <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>in</strong> precipitationon land. The <strong>in</strong>creased ra<strong>in</strong>fallboosts plant production, which <strong>in</strong>turn boosts <strong>the</strong> populations of <strong>in</strong>sectsand animals higher on <strong>the</strong>food cha<strong>in</strong>, such as snakes. While<strong>the</strong> wet conditions and boom<strong>in</strong>gplant productivity may at firstglance seem beneficial <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands,<strong>the</strong> new conditions can bedifficult for species adapted <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong>normally dry islands.JEAN CLAUDE CONSTANT


The excessive ra<strong>in</strong>s of El Niñocaused <strong>the</strong> collapse of Opuntia cacti.Their roots, which are shallow andwere anchored <strong>in</strong> loose mud becauseof <strong>the</strong> water, could not susta<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>enormous weight of <strong>the</strong> cacti’scanopies, which were overloadedwith fluid. Ano<strong>the</strong>r long-livedspecies, giant <strong>to</strong>r<strong>to</strong>ises also sufferedfrom <strong>the</strong> wet conditions. A giant <strong>to</strong>r<strong>to</strong>isethat fell <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a creek filled withwater and died dur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> El Niño of1997-1998 was reported, and manyof <strong>the</strong> <strong>to</strong>r<strong>to</strong>ises’ nests became <strong>to</strong>o wet<strong>to</strong> ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir eggs at <strong>the</strong> correcttemperature, caus<strong>in</strong>g a decl<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong> reproduction.In addition <strong>to</strong> threaten<strong>in</strong>g nativespecies, <strong>the</strong> wetter conditions alsohelp <strong>in</strong>troduced species become establishedand flourish. Invasiveants and wasps, for example, expand<strong>the</strong>ir ranges considerably dur<strong>in</strong>gEl Niño events.<strong>Climate</strong> scientists are quick <strong>to</strong> po<strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong>ut that El Niño is not <strong>the</strong> same asclimate change. El Niño effects arerelatively short-lived, typically last<strong>in</strong>ga year or less, while climatechange represents a longer-term,and more permanent, shift. But because<strong>the</strong> effects of El Niño are much<strong>the</strong> same as <strong>the</strong> effects projectedunder climate change, it’s helpful <strong>to</strong>look <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> impacts of El Niño forclues <strong>to</strong> how species might react <strong>to</strong>longer-term climatic changes.<strong>Climate</strong> models suggest that ElNiño events will cont<strong>in</strong>ue, and couldpossibly become more frequent or<strong>in</strong>tense, as climate change advances.LEE POSTON / WWF8 │ AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds


Vulnerabilities <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islandsVirtually every aspect of life <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagos will be affected by climate change.<strong>Adapt<strong>in</strong>g</strong> <strong>to</strong> this new reality now will help m<strong>in</strong>imize <strong>the</strong> costs of adaptation and maximize<strong>the</strong> benefits. The follow<strong>in</strong>g tables provide examples of some of <strong>the</strong> ways that <strong>the</strong>islands’ ecosystems, economic sec<strong>to</strong>rs, and key emblematic species are likely <strong>to</strong> be affectedby climate change, and what can be done <strong>to</strong> help address <strong>the</strong>ir vulnerabilities.Ecological Vulnerabilities of <strong>the</strong> Galápagos <strong>Islands</strong>Terrestrial Ecosystem Vulnerability Key adaptation actionsThe Humid ZoneThe cold trade w<strong>in</strong>ds of <strong>the</strong>southwest reach <strong>the</strong> islands fullof humidity. Upon reach<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>islands, <strong>the</strong>y rise and f<strong>in</strong>dwarmer, drier air, which results<strong>in</strong> condensation <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> form ofgarúa. This only affects <strong>the</strong>sou<strong>the</strong>astern portions of <strong>the</strong>higher islands. The humid zoneallows <strong>the</strong> development of agriculture<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>habited islandsand is <strong>the</strong> most biologically diversehabitat of <strong>the</strong> islands’ terrestrialecosystems.Higher precipitation couldthreaten <strong>the</strong> humid zone bychang<strong>in</strong>g vegetation growthrates and forest structure. Scalesiaforests reported high mortality,possibly due <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> treeroots los<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>ir ability <strong>to</strong> susta<strong>in</strong><strong>the</strong> trees, because of excesswater <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> soil. Increas<strong>in</strong>gtemperatures will cause manyspecies <strong>to</strong> shift <strong>the</strong>ir ranges <strong>to</strong>higher elevations. Species restricted<strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> very <strong>to</strong>ps ofmounta<strong>in</strong>s may have nowhereelse <strong>to</strong> go.Work with <strong>the</strong> agricultural sec<strong>to</strong>r<strong>to</strong> improve land managementpractices, with particularattention <strong>to</strong> limit<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> expansionof non-native plants <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong>native ecosystems. Identify andprotect <strong>the</strong> “drier” areas of <strong>the</strong>humid zone, as <strong>the</strong>se may becomerefuges for humid-zonespecies (such as Scalesia pedunculata)as <strong>the</strong> rest of <strong>the</strong> humidzone becomes wetter.The Arid ZoneMost of <strong>the</strong> islands’ surface liesat relatively low elevationswhere fresh water is scarce, <strong>in</strong>what is referred <strong>to</strong> as <strong>the</strong> aridzone. The land here is almostlike a desert, with plants andanimals such as cacti and iguanaswell adapted <strong>to</strong> life <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>seconditions. Most of <strong>the</strong> islands’endemic species are foundhere.Increas<strong>in</strong>g ra<strong>in</strong>fall threatensarid-adapted species. Wetterconditions also may favor <strong>the</strong>establishment of more <strong>in</strong>troducedspecies <strong>in</strong> this zone,which previously has been <strong>to</strong>odry for most new species <strong>to</strong>thrive. Even species native <strong>to</strong><strong>the</strong> islands but not typicallyfound <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> arid zone mightmove <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> arid zones as <strong>the</strong>ybecome wetter, creat<strong>in</strong>gspecies <strong>in</strong>vasions and competition.Limit <strong>in</strong>vasive species <strong>in</strong>troductions,and assist native speciesas <strong>the</strong>y shift <strong>the</strong>ir ranges <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong>areas that become more suitable.As <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> humid zone, <strong>the</strong>driest areas of <strong>the</strong> arid zonemay become refuges for typicalarid-zone species. These areasshould be identified and managedaccord<strong>in</strong>gly.AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds │ 9


Ecological Vulnerabilities of <strong>the</strong> Galápagos <strong>Islands</strong>Mar<strong>in</strong>e Ecosystem Vulnerabilities Key adaptation actionsUpwell<strong>in</strong>g ZoneA dense, deep-water currentcarry<strong>in</strong>g cold, nutrient-richwater across <strong>the</strong> Pacific hits <strong>the</strong>western Galápagos islands andabruptly wells up <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> surface.The nutrients fuel a highly productivefood cha<strong>in</strong> that startswith microscopic plants and animalsand cont<strong>in</strong>ues throughlarge preda<strong>to</strong>rs such as sealions, hammerhead sharks andpengu<strong>in</strong>s.Upwell<strong>in</strong>g areas could be reducedas a result of climate <strong>in</strong>ducedocean warm<strong>in</strong>g. Pastreductions <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> upwell<strong>in</strong>g associatedwith El Niño led <strong>to</strong> dramaticdecl<strong>in</strong>es <strong>in</strong> productivitythat extended from <strong>the</strong> bot<strong>to</strong>mof <strong>the</strong> food cha<strong>in</strong> through fishpopulations and up <strong>to</strong> mar<strong>in</strong>ecormorants, pengu<strong>in</strong>s, sea lions,mar<strong>in</strong>e iguanas, and o<strong>the</strong>rspecies. (See “El Niño: A CaseStudy <strong>in</strong> <strong>Climate</strong> <strong>Change</strong>” <strong>in</strong>set.)Establish “No-Take Zones” <strong>in</strong>upwell<strong>in</strong>g areas <strong>to</strong> moni<strong>to</strong>rand control fish<strong>in</strong>g pressuredur<strong>in</strong>g periods of weaken<strong>in</strong>gof this phenomenon.Coral Reef EcosystemsWarm, tropical currents create<strong>the</strong> conditions needed forcoral reefs. Cold-water coralspecies also can be found <strong>in</strong>upwell<strong>in</strong>g areas where temperaturesare lower. Coral androcky reefs create a subtidalfr<strong>in</strong>ge around <strong>the</strong> islands. Due<strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> unique oceanographicconditions of <strong>the</strong> Galápagos,coral formations are reducedand conf<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>to</strong> areas <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>Nor<strong>the</strong>rn islands (i.e. Wolf andDarw<strong>in</strong>).Coral reefs are threatened byris<strong>in</strong>g ocean temperatures,ocean acidification, and humanpressures. As temperatures rise,some cold-water corals couldbe replaced with warm-<strong>to</strong>lerantspecies. Acidification of <strong>the</strong> waterssurround<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> islands isexpected <strong>to</strong> limit coral growth.Past strong El Niño events havedecimated coral populations:The 1982-83 El Niño led <strong>to</strong> anestimated 97 percent mortalityof reef-build<strong>in</strong>g corals. El Niñoevents and decl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g fish populationsalso have contributed <strong>to</strong><strong>the</strong> formation of sea urch<strong>in</strong> barrens.Improve coord<strong>in</strong>ation and enforcement<strong>in</strong> mar<strong>in</strong>e protectedareas <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagosand coastal Ecuador <strong>to</strong> protectcoral larvae after extremeEl Niño events. Establish moni<strong>to</strong>r<strong>in</strong>gprograms on coralreefs <strong>to</strong> document <strong>the</strong>ir responses<strong>to</strong> extreme eventsand help establish <strong>the</strong>ir capacity<strong>to</strong> adapt <strong>to</strong> climatechange. Identify areas thatare least affected by El-Niñorelatedbleach<strong>in</strong>g events andestablish “Restricted AccessZones” <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>se areas so thatcorals can recover withouthuman stressors. Explore <strong>the</strong>feasibility of us<strong>in</strong>g artificialsubstrates and transplantation<strong>to</strong> reestablish coral communities<strong>in</strong> degraded areas.10 │ AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds


Ecological Vulnerabilities of <strong>the</strong> Galápagos <strong>Islands</strong>Mar<strong>in</strong>e Ecosystem Vulnerabilities Key adaptation actionsMangrove ForestMangroves create a coastaltransition from ocean <strong>to</strong> land.The trees’ stilt-like roots createa nursery for many of <strong>the</strong> islands’most commercially importantfish species. Overhead,<strong>the</strong> trees provide cover for avariety of birds, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>mangrove f<strong>in</strong>ch, a critically endangeredspecies native <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong>islands’ mangroves. The treesalso slow or elim<strong>in</strong>ate erosionfrom waves and s<strong>to</strong>rm surges,help<strong>in</strong>g protect <strong>the</strong> islands’coastal developments.Mangroves are threatened by<strong>the</strong> coastal flood<strong>in</strong>g and erosionassociated with sea levelrise. Forests could shift <strong>in</strong>landas sea level rises, but thoseareas where <strong>the</strong> forests are borderedby human developmentsor o<strong>the</strong>r impediments could belost.Create and implement guidel<strong>in</strong>esfor coastal development<strong>to</strong> m<strong>in</strong>imize its impacts onmangroves. These plansshould <strong>in</strong>clude buffer zonesbeh<strong>in</strong>d current areas of mangroves<strong>to</strong> allow room for naturalmigration. These plans alsoshould take <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> account <strong>the</strong>important role that mangrovescould play <strong>in</strong> protect<strong>in</strong>g<strong>the</strong> islands under climatechange scenarios <strong>in</strong> which sealevel rises and s<strong>to</strong>rm activity<strong>in</strong>creases. Also, promote <strong>the</strong>use of best management practices<strong>to</strong> protect fisheries dependen<strong>to</strong>n mangrove forestsfor part or all of <strong>the</strong> fishes’ lifecycle.EUNICE PARK / WWFAdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds │ 11


Vulnerabilities of Key IndustriesIndustry Vulnerabilities Key adaptation actionsTourismTourism is <strong>the</strong> most significanteconomic activity <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagos,account<strong>in</strong>g for over 75percent of <strong>the</strong> islands’ economy,and employ<strong>in</strong>g some 40 percen<strong>to</strong>f <strong>the</strong> islands’ <strong>in</strong>habitants.Tourism <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands is almostexclusively nature-based. Accord<strong>in</strong>g<strong>to</strong> a recent survey ofGalápagos <strong>to</strong>urists, over 80 percen<strong>to</strong>f <strong>to</strong>urists consider wildlifevery important <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir decision<strong>to</strong> visit <strong>the</strong> islands.<strong>Climate</strong> change is expected <strong>to</strong>threaten all of <strong>the</strong> species thatresearch shows are most important<strong>to</strong> <strong>to</strong>urists (see “KeySpecies” table). Severe decl<strong>in</strong>es<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>se species could lead <strong>to</strong>ei<strong>the</strong>r a reduction <strong>in</strong> <strong>to</strong>urism ora shift from nature-based<strong>to</strong>urism <strong>to</strong> more mass-market,resort-based <strong>to</strong>urism. Such ashift would fur<strong>the</strong>r threatenwildlife species, as this style of<strong>to</strong>urism likely would require additionalurban developmentand natural resources and result<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>creased habitat lossand pollution.Protect emblematic speciesthat support nature <strong>to</strong>urism(see “Key Species” table) <strong>to</strong> ensure<strong>the</strong> susta<strong>in</strong>ability of <strong>the</strong> islands’<strong>to</strong>urism-based economy.Regulate <strong>to</strong>urist access <strong>in</strong> vulnerableareas or dur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>breed<strong>in</strong>g seasons of sensitivespecies. Adopt susta<strong>in</strong>able eco<strong>to</strong>urismapproaches –<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>frastructure development,freshwater conservation, andwaste management—<strong>to</strong> protectspecies and habitats.Fish<strong>in</strong>gAlthough <strong>the</strong> fish<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dustry isnot nearly as economically <strong>in</strong>fluentialas <strong>the</strong> <strong>to</strong>urism <strong>in</strong>dustry—fish<strong>in</strong>ggenerates $5 <strong>to</strong> $6million annually, an amountthat represents less than 4 percen<strong>to</strong>f <strong>the</strong> islands’ <strong>to</strong>tal economicactivity—it isnever<strong>the</strong>less a vital part ofGalápagos society. Fishermen <strong>in</strong><strong>the</strong> islands harvest sea cucumbers,lobsters, grouper (locallycalled bacalao), and severalo<strong>the</strong>r species with<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> GalápagosMar<strong>in</strong>e Reserve’s coastalwaters, and also target largeoffshore species such as yellowf<strong>in</strong>tuna and wahoo. The fishcatches with<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands supplylocal <strong>in</strong>habitants and<strong>to</strong>urists with fresh seafood andalso are exported <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> worldmarket.Ris<strong>in</strong>g ocean temperaturescould reduce <strong>the</strong> abundanceof already-overfished coldwaterfish while <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>abundance of warm-waterfish. <strong>Change</strong>s <strong>in</strong> upwell<strong>in</strong>galso could reduce <strong>the</strong> abundanceof many fish species.Streng<strong>the</strong>n fisheries management<strong>to</strong> reduce pressure onmar<strong>in</strong>e resources and <strong>in</strong>creaseecosystem resilience <strong>to</strong> climatechange. In anticipationof a shift from coastal <strong>to</strong> offshorefish<strong>in</strong>g, regulate offshorefisheries, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>gestablish<strong>in</strong>g “No-Take Zones”where needed. Ensure access<strong>to</strong> credit for fishermen upgrad<strong>in</strong>gequipment <strong>to</strong> shift fromcoastal <strong>to</strong> offshore fish<strong>in</strong>g. Improveeducational opportunitiesfor fishers leav<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>fish<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dustry so <strong>the</strong>y canbetter compete for jobs <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong><strong>to</strong>urism and service sec<strong>to</strong>rs.12 │ AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds


Vulnerabilities of Key SpeciesSpecies Vulnerabilities Key adaptation actionsGiant <strong>to</strong>r<strong>to</strong>isesDur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> El Niño of 1997-98, <strong>to</strong>r<strong>to</strong>iseswere washed away by floodwaters <strong>in</strong><strong>the</strong> creeks. Higher temperatures couldtrigger altitud<strong>in</strong>al migrations andcould reduce nest<strong>in</strong>g success.Increases <strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>vasive<strong>in</strong>sect species such as fireants could lead <strong>to</strong> <strong>in</strong>creases<strong>in</strong> predation on hatchl<strong>in</strong>gs, reduc<strong>in</strong>ghatchl<strong>in</strong>g survival.Ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> vegetation along creeksso that <strong>to</strong>r<strong>to</strong>ises are notwashed away dur<strong>in</strong>g high ra<strong>in</strong>falls.Control <strong>in</strong>vasive speciessuch as fire ants. Considerbeach shad<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> regulate nesttemperatures and ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong>hatchl<strong>in</strong>g sex ratios.LEE POSTON / WWFLEE POSTON / WWFSea TurtleSea turtles are most threatened by reductions<strong>in</strong> algae, <strong>the</strong>ir ma<strong>in</strong> foodsource. Higher temperatures could <strong>in</strong>terferewith egg development, favor<strong>in</strong>g<strong>the</strong> development of females or caus<strong>in</strong>gembryos <strong>to</strong> die. Beach flood<strong>in</strong>g and erosionfrom El Niño and sea level rise areano<strong>the</strong>r significant threat. Green seaturtle nest<strong>in</strong>g decl<strong>in</strong>ed sharply dur<strong>in</strong>g<strong>the</strong> 1982-83 El Niño.Protect nest<strong>in</strong>g beaches. Provideshade <strong>in</strong> nest<strong>in</strong>g sites <strong>to</strong>help ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> sex ratios.LEE POSTON / WWFAdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds │ 13


Vulnerabilities of Key SpeciesSpecies Vulnerabilities Key adaptation actionsMar<strong>in</strong>e IguanaEUNICE PARK / WWF Y.-J. REY-MILLET / WWF-CANON JEAN CLAUDE CONSTANTBlue-Footed BoobyMar<strong>in</strong>e iguanas are most threatenedby a reduction <strong>in</strong> algae, but also arethreatened by ris<strong>in</strong>g air temperaturesthat <strong>in</strong>terfere with egg development,and beach erosion andflood<strong>in</strong>g that could preventnest<strong>in</strong>g. Dur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> 1997-98El Niño, mar<strong>in</strong>e iguana populationssuffered 90 percent mortality.<strong>Change</strong>s <strong>in</strong> air temperaturecould <strong>in</strong>terfere with iguanas’ ability <strong>to</strong>regulate <strong>the</strong>ir body temperaturewhile on land.Dur<strong>in</strong>g El Niño events, boobies haveabandoned breed<strong>in</strong>g colonies and<strong>in</strong>creased migrations outside <strong>the</strong>Galápagos Mar<strong>in</strong>e Reserve <strong>in</strong> searchof food. Flood<strong>in</strong>g associated withfuture El Niño events and sea level risecould cause nest losses. Reductions <strong>in</strong>upwell<strong>in</strong>g could cause severe decl<strong>in</strong>es<strong>in</strong> prey items.In o<strong>the</strong>r parts of <strong>the</strong> world,native plant species are be<strong>in</strong>gplanted <strong>to</strong> help shade beachesand provide refuge <strong>to</strong>species and <strong>the</strong>ir eggs. As airtemperatures rise, mar<strong>in</strong>eiguanas <strong>in</strong> Galápagos mightalso require shad<strong>in</strong>g from artificialshelters or nativeplants <strong>to</strong> lower <strong>the</strong>ir bodytemperatures and protect<strong>the</strong>ir eggs.Regulate fisheries’ catches ofkey booby prey species dur<strong>in</strong>gEl Niño years. As sea-surfacetemperatures <strong>in</strong>crease, permanentclosures of somefisheries may be necessary.14 │ AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds


Vulnerabilities of Key SpeciesEUNICE PARK / WWF LEE POSTON / WWFLEE POSTON / WWFSpecies Vulnerabilities Key adaptation actionsPengu<strong>in</strong>Sea LionLand IguanasPast strong El Niño events have causedmortalities of up <strong>to</strong> 77 percent,with dramatic decl<strong>in</strong>es of prey speciesand reduced breed<strong>in</strong>g success.Reduced upwell<strong>in</strong>g could cause severedecl<strong>in</strong>es <strong>in</strong> prey items, and flood<strong>in</strong>gassociated with sea level rise orfuture El Niño events could causenest losses. Higher temperatures andra<strong>in</strong>fall could favor pathogens suchas Plasmodium.Sea lions are especially sensitive <strong>to</strong> aweaken<strong>in</strong>g of <strong>the</strong> western upwell<strong>in</strong>g.Dur<strong>in</strong>g past strong El Niño eventswhen <strong>the</strong> upwell<strong>in</strong>g dw<strong>in</strong>dled, sealion populations decl<strong>in</strong>ed by up <strong>to</strong>50 percent, and up <strong>to</strong> 90 percen<strong>to</strong>f pups died. Populations can takeup <strong>to</strong> 10 years <strong>to</strong> recover fromstrong El Niño events.<strong>Change</strong>s <strong>in</strong> air temperature could <strong>in</strong>terferewith iguanas’ ability <strong>to</strong>regulate <strong>the</strong>ir body temperature.<strong>Change</strong>s <strong>in</strong> ra<strong>in</strong>fall distributionand amounts couldreduce nest<strong>in</strong>g success andhatchl<strong>in</strong>g survival. The spread of<strong>in</strong>troduced <strong>in</strong>sects such as fireants could fur<strong>the</strong>r threatennest<strong>in</strong>g success and hatchl<strong>in</strong>gsurvival.Artificial nest<strong>in</strong>g burrows havebeen used for similar species ofpengu<strong>in</strong>s <strong>in</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r parts of <strong>the</strong>world, and considerationshould be given <strong>to</strong> whe<strong>the</strong>r<strong>the</strong>se might help Galápagospengu<strong>in</strong>s cope with ris<strong>in</strong>g temperaturesand nest flood<strong>in</strong>g. Regulationslimit<strong>in</strong>g catches ofpengu<strong>in</strong> prey species may need<strong>to</strong> be considered <strong>in</strong> some years.Control <strong>in</strong>troduced mosqui<strong>to</strong>eswhich are vec<strong>to</strong>rs for <strong>the</strong> avianmalaria impact<strong>in</strong>g pengu<strong>in</strong> populations.Use fisheries regulations <strong>to</strong>limit catches of sea lions’ preyspecies dur<strong>in</strong>g El Niño years.Like o<strong>the</strong>r reptiles <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands,land iguanas may requireshad<strong>in</strong>g from plants orartificial structures <strong>to</strong> provide<strong>the</strong>rmal refuge. Control <strong>the</strong>spread of <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>vasive fireant.AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds │ 15


Key recommendations for adapt<strong>in</strong>g<strong>to</strong> climate change impactsThe extent of losses <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong> diversity of life <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagos, and, <strong>in</strong> turn, <strong>to</strong> <strong>the</strong>people who depend on those resources, will depend on how quickly and strategically<strong>the</strong> islands prepare for <strong>the</strong> com<strong>in</strong>g changes. <strong>Climate</strong> change has already altered<strong>the</strong> balance of <strong>the</strong> oceans with serious and irreversible consequences formar<strong>in</strong>e ecosystems and <strong>the</strong> services <strong>the</strong>y provide. Therefore, it becomes imperative<strong>to</strong> take actions <strong>to</strong> <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>the</strong> adaptive capacity of coastal mar<strong>in</strong>e ecosystems and<strong>the</strong> people that depend on <strong>the</strong>m. <strong>Adapt<strong>in</strong>g</strong> is <strong>the</strong> only solution <strong>to</strong> ensure ecosystemsand human societies can survive and ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir wellbe<strong>in</strong>g when exposed <strong>to</strong> climatechange impacts. Adaptation plann<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagos should consider <strong>the</strong>follow<strong>in</strong>g broad pr<strong>in</strong>ciples that reflect <strong>the</strong> unique economic and ecological conditions<strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands.protect especially vulnerablespecies and ecosystemsStreng<strong>the</strong>n management measures<strong>to</strong> reduce exist<strong>in</strong>g pressures on mar<strong>in</strong>eresources, <strong>in</strong>crease ecosystemresilience and <strong>in</strong>tegrate <strong>the</strong> managemen<strong>to</strong>f coastal mar<strong>in</strong>e resourcesand cont<strong>in</strong>ental protectedareas with that of Galápagos.Protect climate vulnerable species,such as those that depend on <strong>the</strong>coastal zone for nest<strong>in</strong>g andbreed<strong>in</strong>g.JEAN CLAUDE CONSTANTprotect emblematic species<strong>to</strong> susta<strong>in</strong> <strong>to</strong>urismSpecies such as giant <strong>to</strong>r<strong>to</strong>ises,Galápagos pengu<strong>in</strong>s, and bluefootedboobies draw <strong>to</strong>urists thatnot only support thousands ofGalápagos families, but alsohelp fund local governmentsand conservation work <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong>islands. Protect<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong>se specieswith actions that address <strong>the</strong>specific threats each face wouldhave far-reach<strong>in</strong>g economic andconservationbenefits.


streng<strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong> quarant<strong>in</strong>esystem <strong>to</strong> limit <strong>the</strong> <strong>in</strong>troductionof <strong>in</strong>vasive speciesRegulate cargo access from <strong>the</strong>ma<strong>in</strong>land <strong>to</strong> limit <strong>in</strong>troduction ofpests and <strong>in</strong>vasive species. Adoptclean-cargo pro<strong>to</strong>cols <strong>in</strong> ports thatservice <strong>the</strong> islands, and developbetter procedures <strong>to</strong> detect and respond<strong>to</strong> pests on arriv<strong>in</strong>g vessels.improve management ofcoastal and offshore-waterfisheriesImprove management of fisheriesand establish offshore no-takezones <strong>to</strong> anticipate shifts <strong>in</strong> fish<strong>in</strong>gpressure as climate change will <strong>in</strong>ducecoastal fish s<strong>to</strong>cks <strong>to</strong> moveaway from coastal waters due <strong>to</strong> <strong>in</strong>crease<strong>in</strong> ocean temperature and<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g fish<strong>in</strong>g pressure.promote climate research and establishclimate-response moni<strong>to</strong>r<strong>in</strong>g pro<strong>to</strong>colsEstablish a moni<strong>to</strong>r<strong>in</strong>g and early warn<strong>in</strong>gsystem <strong>to</strong> detect <strong>the</strong> impacts of climatechange on <strong>the</strong> ecosystems and species of <strong>the</strong>Galápagos. Promote research <strong>to</strong> fill <strong>in</strong> gaps onhow species and ecosystems may respond <strong>to</strong>climate change and <strong>to</strong> enable managers <strong>to</strong>take adaptation actions.PABLO CORRAL / WWF-CANONJEAN CLAUDE CONSTANT


Adopt a susta<strong>in</strong>able eco-<strong>to</strong>urismapproach and coastal developmentPromote <strong>the</strong> use of freshwater conservation,waste management and boat operations<strong>to</strong> avoid loss of species (seaturtles) and habitat (e.g. mangroves,coral reefs). Implement guidel<strong>in</strong>es andbest practices for coastal and foreshoredevelopment plann<strong>in</strong>g that take <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> account<strong>the</strong> potential for <strong>in</strong>creased s<strong>to</strong>rmactivity, salt water <strong>in</strong>trusion, and o<strong>the</strong>rclimate change impacts. Improve andretrofit exist<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>frastructure <strong>to</strong> makesure <strong>the</strong>y can susta<strong>in</strong> climate impacts.improve education opportunitiesand promote communityawarenessEducation and awareness are keystrategies <strong>to</strong> <strong>in</strong>crease language andcommunication capacity that will enablepeople <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> Galápagos <strong>to</strong> occupyjobs <strong>in</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>to</strong>urism and service sec<strong>to</strong>rsor by provid<strong>in</strong>g credit l<strong>in</strong>es <strong>to</strong> allow ashift from coastal <strong>to</strong> offshore fish<strong>in</strong>g,which requires sturdier, betterequippedboats. Outreach programs canhelp create awareness and engage communitieson climate.LEE POSTON / WWFLEE POSTON / WWF18 │ AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds


WWF’s mission is <strong>to</strong> s<strong>to</strong>p <strong>the</strong> degradationof <strong>the</strong> planet’s natural environmentand <strong>to</strong> build a future <strong>in</strong> whichhumans live <strong>in</strong> harmony with natureby:• Conserv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> world’s biologicaldiversity.• Ensur<strong>in</strong>g that <strong>the</strong> use of renewablenatural resources is susta<strong>in</strong>able.• Promot<strong>in</strong>g <strong>the</strong> reduction of pollutionand wasteful consumption.Build<strong>in</strong>g upon a strong foundationof science, partnership and fielddemonstration, CI empowers societies<strong>to</strong> responsibly and susta<strong>in</strong>ably care fornature, our global biodiversity, for <strong>the</strong>well-be<strong>in</strong>g of humanity.Edited by Irma Larrea Oña (WWF) and Giuseppe Di Carlo (CI)Cover Picture: Sea lions © Lee Pos<strong>to</strong>n / WWFBack Cover Pictures: Galápagos landscape © Lee Pos<strong>to</strong>n / WWF;Sally ligthfoot crab © Lee Pos<strong>to</strong>n / WWF; Galápagos lizard © Jean Claude Constant.Design and Pr<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g: AH/edi<strong>to</strong>rial, ahedi<strong>to</strong>rial@and<strong>in</strong>at.net© Copyright No. 035146ISBN-978-9942-03-432-9Source must be cited <strong>in</strong> all cases. Parts of this publication can be reproduced without previous writtenpermission if <strong>the</strong> source is cited. For <strong>the</strong> <strong>to</strong>tal reproduction of this document, CI and WWF must be previously<strong>in</strong>formed.Published <strong>in</strong> Qui<strong>to</strong>, Ecuador by Conservation International and WWF © 2011.All rights reserved by CI and WWF.


World Wildlife Fund1250 Twenty-Fourth St., N.W.Wash<strong>in</strong>g<strong>to</strong>n, DC 20037 USAWeb: www.worldwildlife.orgTel.: (202) 495-4800Fax: (202) 233-6971WWF-Galápagos program18 de Febrero y Piqueros esqu<strong>in</strong>aPuer<strong>to</strong> Ayora, Santa Cruz IslandGalápagos, EcuadorTel. & Fax: (593 5) 252-6053Conservation <strong>in</strong>ternational22011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500Arl<strong>in</strong>g<strong>to</strong>n, VA 22202 USAWeb: www.conservation.orgTel.: (703) 341-2400Fax: (703) 892-0826Conservation <strong>in</strong>ternational <strong>in</strong> GalápagosCalle Juan León Mera s/n y Avenida ScalesiaPuer<strong>to</strong> Ayora, Santa Cruz IslandGalápagos, EcuadorTel.: (593 5) 252-752720 │ AdApT<strong>in</strong>G To ClimATe ChAnGe <strong>in</strong> The GAlápAGos islAnds

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