Recovery of threatened species and their ecological restoration

Recovery of threatened species and their ecological restoration

Recovery of Endangered Species in Protected Areas of the Galapagos National Park PC-15-22

This project is currently Active

The Galapagos Verde 2050 program contributes to the recovery of endemic species in danger of extinction such as Lecocarpus lecocarpoides on Española Island, Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha in the northwestern part of Isabela Island, Scalesia affinis and Scalesia retroflexa in Santa Cruz Island.

Our Research Team

Patricia Jaramillo Díaz

Principal Investigator

Patricia is an Ecuadorian researcher who came to Galapagos in 1996 to work on her PhD thesis about the “human impact on native, endemic and introduced flora on the Galapagos Islands” and since...

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Anna Calle


Anna has always been fascinated by the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon rainforest. Her desire to protect these unique ecosystems motivated her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in...

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David Cevallos


David holds a Bachelor degree in agricultural engineering from the Army Polytechnic School (ESPE) in Ecuador, a master in environmental science from the university of Debrecen in Hungary in and a...

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Nicolas Velasco


Nicolás has a great curiosity for plant species, their reproduction, ecology and how these disperse. Coming from Chile, started his career as an Agronomist studying the reproduction of fruiting...

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Pavel Enríquez-Moncayo

Project Assistant

Pavel has always admired the people behind the great scientific discoveries both in his home, the Galapagos, as well as worldwide. Further, growing up in the "Enchanted Islands" allowed him to...

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Paúl Mayorga

Project Assistant

I was born and raised in these "Enchanted Islands", which meant from a young age I was naturally immersed in the conservation of the place where I live. Growing up with relatively little technology...

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Danyer Zambrano

Field Assistant

Danyer arrived to Floreana Island when he was only two years old. As he grew up on the island, he always enjoyed the idea of living in a green environment full of natural life, as well as learning...

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Project Details

What is the Galapagos Verde 2050 program doing to restore threatened species of ecological importance to the Galapagos ecosystem?

The Galapagos Islands are recognized worldwide for their wealth of endemic species. Unfortunately, in the case of the Galapagos flora, many endemic species are threatened. It is known that 12% of the archipelago's plant species are critically endangered (CR), 15% are endangered (EN), and 32% are vulnerable (VU). For this reason, the GV2050 Program hopes to contribute to the preservation of Galapagos biodiversity through the recovery of threatened species. Currently the project focuses on the recovery of 4 species in danger of extinction; Lecocarpus lecocarpoides, Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha, Scalesia affinis and Scalesia retroflexa. However, it is expected to continue expanding efforts to other species in the future. To select these species, an assessment of all Galapagos endemic plants will be carried out using IUCN criteria.

gv2050 amenaza 2022
From left to right, flower of: Scalesia retroflexa, Lecocarpus lecocarpoides, Galvezia Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha, and Scalesia affinis

What tools does the Galapagos Verde 2050 program use for the ecological restoration of threatened species?

One of the important limitations in the Galapagos Islands is the availability of fresh water, which is why it is necessary to optimize its use using water-saving technologies. The GV2050 program uses various tools for ecological restoration and recovery of threatened species as water-saving technologies: Groasis Waterboxx®, Cocoon, Growboxx®, and Hydrogel.
Groasis Waterboxx®. It is a technology that collects rainwater, storing it to provide it through a constant supply of water to the plant, allowing it to develop better.
Information on the use of this technology 

Cocoon biodegradable boxes. With functions similar to Groasis Waterboxx, but made of biodegradable material that does not need to be removed at the end of use.
The video shows how Cocoon technology is used in other ecological restoration projects 

Growboxx®. Made of biodegradable material, it has a hole in the center where the plant is sown and four holes in the lid where seeds can be germinated hydroponically.
More information on how this technology is used

Hydrogel. They are gels of polymeric materials that allow the retention of water in the soil to benefit the vegetation present on the site.
The benefits of hydrogel as a water saving technology

gv2050 espaniola figura2

Water saving technologies used in the GV2050 program. a) Groasis Waterboxx®, b) Cocoon, c) Groasis Growboxx®, d) Hydrogel powder

What phases is the project timeline divided into?

gv2050 especial figura3

General map of study sites where the ecological restoration of threatened species of the Galapagos Verde 2050 program is carried out. Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha in Isabela, Lecocarpus lecocarpoides in Española, Scalesia affinis and retroflexa in Santa Cruz, divided by the different phases of ecological restoration within of the GV2050 program.

Phase 1: It began before 2014 with the collection of seeds and was successfully completed in July 2017. The project was carried out on Tortuga beach in North Isabela with the planting of 5 individuals of Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha

Phase 2: It began in August 2017 and will run until July 2027. The species Lecocarpus lecocarpoides, Scalesia affinis and Scalesia retroflexa are added to this second phase of the project.

360 panoramic image of S. retroflexa on Santa Cruz Island, near Punta Nuñez. Photo: Hein Angermeyer

Phase 3: The last and most extensive phase of the program will continue with the restoration. Of all the priority species that have been evaluated according to the IUCN categories within the same project.



The main objective of this project is to contribute to the conservation of Galapagos terrestrial ecosystems through the recovery of endangered species within the protected areas of the Galapagos National Park.

The specific objectives of our project are:

  • Identify effective strategies for the recovery of endangered species through the development of in-situ and ex-situ experiments.
  • Monitor the population status and distribution of populations of endangered species.
  • Determine the threats facing endangered species by studying their physical and biological interactions

Our results

What results have we obtained from the ecological restoration of threatened species within the Galapagos Verde 2050 program?


Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha is another of the species included in the red list of endemic species of Ecuador as Endangered (Jaramillo and Tye 2018; León-Yánez et al. 2011). The population of G. leucantha subsp. leucantha in Isabela North consisted of only 4 individuals in the wild in 2007 (Jaramillo and Tye 2018). In 2016, the GV2050 Program began work on the restoration of this species, repatriating 19 individuals from the CDF laboratory to their island of origin (Plunkett, 2020). After several ex situ breeding efforts, followed by repatriation, the population has increased to 20 adult individuals (Plunkett, 2020). In addition to these, 8 small individuals were found during the last population However, due to the small population size, it is necessary to continue with the recovery of this species.

gv2050 especial figura4A
Left: Specimen of Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha in the vicinity of Black Turtle beach in North Isabela. Right: Number of surviving Galvezia specimens from 2017 to 2022


More information about Galvezia leucantha:


Read more about the first work with Galvezia leucantha with volunteers and the GV2050 team (Blog): Taking care of very important plants

 Taking care of very important baby plants

Española: Lecocarpus is one of the 6 endemic genera of the Galapagos Islands. It includes 4 species distributed on 3 islands: Lecocarpus lecocarpoides (Española), L. pinnatifidus on Floreana, and L. leptolobus and L. darwinii on San Cristóbal (Brok & Adsersen, 2007). On Española Island, despite the fact that introduced goats were eradicated in 1978, populations of several endemic plant species did not recover (Atkinson, 2007). Lecocarpus lecocarpoides is one of these species, which is why it has been included in the red list of endemic plants of Ecuador in the Endangered (EN) category (León-Yánez et al., 2011). It occurs on the main island of Española and four from surrounding islets in Gardner Bay (Brok & Adsersen, 2007). The population at Punta Manzanillo, the only known population on the main island, was thought to be nearly extinct until recently (Atkinson et al. 2008). Despite several searches, there were no records of this species from 2012 to 2020 (Figure 3). Fortunately, an expedition in 2020 found around 48 small plants in Punta Manzanillo (Jaramillo, 2021). With so few individuals in the wild, it is important to implement effective restoration strategies that increase the population of L. lecocarpoides in Punta Manzanillo and prevent its extinction.

gv2050 especial figura5ALeft: Population of Lecocarpus lecocarpoides var. lecocarpoides in the vicinity of Punta Manzanillo –
Española Island. Right: Population of L. lecocarpoides in Punta Manzanillo over time. Data taken from Brok & Adsersen (2007),
field reports, technicians, Herbarium CDS collections, and observations of the GV2050 team in the field.


Santa Cruz:
Scalesia affinis is endemic to the eastern and central islands of the archipelago (Andersen & Svendsen, 1986).
The main islands where S. affinis has reduced its population is Santa Cruz and Floreana (Nielson, 2004). In Santa Cruz, specifically in Puerto Ayora, the population of S. affinis has been displaced by urban growth. Where, the natural distribution of the species coincides with the development of the town of Puerto Ayora (Jaramillo et al. 2018). In Puerto Ayora, as in many cities, the conservation of species is affected by the destruction of habitat and the high fragmentation of the ecosystem (Planchuelo et al., 2020). It has been reported that the extraction of stones in the places where this species grows and contamination by garbage, together with the construction of buildings, are the main factors that affect the ecosystem in which S. affinis develops.(Atkinson et al., 2008). The population of S. affinis has suffered a significant reduction in Santa Cruz in recent decades. Between 1998 and 2001, the existence of a remnant of 5 individuals was reported south of Santa Cruz.(L.R. Nielsen, 2004). Later, in 2005, the existence of a remnant population of 71 adult individuals was reported for the island of Santa Cruz (Jaramillo, 2005), whose main problem is the reduced regeneration capacity of the population (Atkinson et al. 2009). This phenomenon can be explained by the partial self-incompatibility of the species, in which self-fertilization produces non-viable seeds (Nielsen et al. 2003).

gv2050 especial figura6a

Scalesia affinis flower in Puerto Ayora-Santa Cruz.


¿Are you interested in knowing more about this species? Watch the videos about Scalesia affinis

Scalesia retroflexa is one of the 15 species of the endemic genus Scalesia, it lives only on Santa Cruz Island, and has a very reduced distribution (Aldáz 2004). Scalesia retroflexa is included in the red list of endemic species of Ecuador as Critically Endangered (León-Yánez et al., 2011). Aldáz (2004) studied the population of S. retroflexa from 1998 to 2003, producing valuable information on the population structure of this species. However, the current population status of this critically endangered species needs to be assessed.

gv2050 especial figura7
Population of Scalesia retroflexa in the vicinity of Punta Núñez in Santa Cruz.

Read more about the project on threatened and endangered species (Blogs):

Saving a species from the brink of extinction: Galapagos Verde 2050
Lecocarpus species re-discovered on Española Island after decades of not being registered!
Population recovery of Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha on Isabela Island


Would you like to know about the results obtained by the Galapagos Verde 2050 program in 2021?

Watch the following video:


Keywords: Endangered species, Lecocarpus lecocarpoides, Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha, Scalesia retroflexa, Scalesia affinis, ecological restoration.

Bibliographical References

Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos. (2014). Plan de Manejo de las Áreas Protegidas de Galápagos para el Buen Vivir. Puerto Ayora, Galápagos, Ecuador.

Elisens, WJ (1992). Divergencia genética en Galvezia (Scrophulariaceae): relaciones evolutivas y biogeográficas entre especies sudamericanas y de Galápagos. Revista americana de botánica 79 (2): 198-206.

Guzmán, B., Heleno, R., Nogales, M., Simbaña, W., Traveset, A. & Vargas, P. (2016). Historia evolutiva de la boca de dragón arbustiva (Galvezia leucantha) en peligro de extinción de las Islas Galápagos. Diversidad y distribuciones: 1-14.

Jaramillo, P., Tapia, W., Negoita, L., Plunkett, E., Guerrero, M., Mayorga, P., & Gibbs, J. P. (2020). El Proyecto Galápagos Verde 2050 (Volumen 1).

Jaramillo P. (2005) Scalesia affinis, “la Scalesia de Puerto Ayora” casi extinta en Santa Cruz. Fundacion Charles Darwin Report, unpublished.

León-Yánez, S., Valencia, R., Pitman, N., Endara, L., Ulloa, C. & Navarrete, H. (2011). Libro rojo de las plantas endémicas del Ecuador. 2 da. Edición. Herbario QCA. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito

Planchuelo, G., Kowarik, I., & von der Lippe, M. (2020). Endangered Plants in Novel Urban Ecosystems Are Filtered by Strategy Type and Dispersal Syndrome, Not by Spatial Dependence on Natural Remnants. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 8, 18.

Tye, A. y Jager, H. (2000) Galvezia leucantha subsp porphyrantha (Scrophulariaceae); un nuevo Shrub Snapdragon endémico de la isla Santiago; Galápagos; Ecuador. 10 de noviembre (2):164-168

Wiggins, IL y Porter, DM (1971). Flora de las Islas Galápagos. Prensa de la Universidad de Stanford, Stanford, CA.

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