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Climate Change Ecology
Volume 2, 2021, 100026

The effects of climate change on wildlife biodiversity of the galapagos islands

Alejandra Dueñasa, Gustavo Jiménez-Uzcáteguib, Thijs Boskera,c

Leiden University College, Leiden University, P.O. Box 13228, 2501 EE, The Hague, Netherlands.


The Galapagos Islands are one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. The convergence of four ocean currents and the isolation of these islands create a variety of ecosystems that host unique biodiversity. Many of the endemic species are particularly vulnerable to disturbances in their environment, as most of them are unable to migrate or adapt in response to changing climatic conditions. Due to climate change, there is an increase in extreme weather patterns (El Niño-Southern Oscillation [ENSO] and La Niña events) and climate variability. These affect the productivity of marine and terrestrial ecosystems on the Galapagos Islands and ultimately disrupt natural processes and ecosystem dynamics. Here we conduct a systematic review on the impact on the increase of extreme weather events (ENSO and La Niña events) and climate variability on the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. We demonstrate that the increase in the frequency of ENSO events poses a major threat to endemic marine biodiversity, while it has positive impacts on many terrestrial species due to increase rainfall and food availability. In contrast, La Niña provides sometimes positive conditions for marine species allowing them to recover, while for many terrestrial species La Niña years result in worse conditions causing adverse effects. Therefore, the increased frequency of ENSO and La Niña years under climate change poses significant threats to the Galapagos biodiversity. Also, increased climate variability (not related to ENSO and La Niña events) has adverse impacts on marine and terrestrial species, putting biodiversity under even more pressure. The results of our review are key to understand the far-reaching implications of climate change on the Galapagos Islands and can be used to understand impacts on other archipelagos worldwide, which are often areas with high levels of (endemic) biodiversity.

Keywords: Climate variability, Galapagos archipelago, Biodiversity loss, El NiñoLa Niña, Endemic Biodiversity.

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