A few months before I began my Ph.D., I set up a project in Galápagos, studying the impacts of an introduced bird.
The smooth-billed ani Crotophaga ani, native to most of South and Central America as well as parts of the USA, was introduced to Galápagos in the 1960s. This was reportedly done in the hope they would eat ticks off the cattle being farmed on the islands. Since then the population has spread across the archipelago and reached an estimated 250,000. It is thought to be having numerous negative impacts via mechanisms such as depredation of native species and spread of invasive plants. However, the evidence for this is largely anecdotal and research into this introduced species has been limited. In collaboration with the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galápagos National Park Directorate I am investigating the impacts that smooth-billed anis are having in Galápagos and researching potential control or eradication methods. As part of this I have designed and tested a new trap for catching them and am planning a large-scale dietary analysis.