Galapagos Invasive Species:
Management basics

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Gene Technology: what is its future in conservation?

Although genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have not been used in Galapagos to control invasive species, the Charles Darwin Foundation keeps abreast of innovations and is directly involved in evaluating them and assessing the risks of their use.

In December 2003, Dr Brian Cooke helped organise an international symposium to discuss GMOs in managing mammal populations as part of the 3rd International Wildlife Management Congress, Christchurch, New Zealand.

The management of wild European rabbits Oryctolagus cuninculus provided the main example, although GMOs are also being developed for the control of rodents and even the marsupial brush-tailed possums that are pests in New Zealand despite a steady decline in their natural Australian range. In Spain, where rabbits play an important ecological role, an attenuated myxoma virus GMO has been developed to immunise rabbits and reduce the impact of both myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease on rabbits. By contrast, Australian scientists seek a myxoma virus GMO to cause sterility in rabbits which are an invasive species on that continent. With such conflicting goals, the symposium asked what problems might result from deliberate or accidental transfer of these GMOs to the wrong country. Can safety mechanisms be built into GMOs and is their international management possible?

Source: Charles Darwin Foundation.

The vertebrates page gives more information on current work being carried out on introduced vertebrate species.

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This website was created on 25 October 2004 by PT and JK