San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias

Expedition 2000 to Isla Guadalupe
A Binational Multidisciplinary Expedition

Isla Guadalupe

Great Central Cirque, photo by Thomas A. Oberbauer © 1998
The great central cirque (collapsed ancient volcanic crater) near the north end of the island. Ridge line with ancient pines can be seen in the background. Erosion and denuded foreground a result of 150 years of uncontrolled goat browsing. Photo by: Thomas A. Oberbauer. © 1998. All rights reserved.

Due to its location as the westernmost island off Baja California (160 miles from shore) and the resultant extreme isolation, Isla Guadalupe contains one of North America's most unique ecosystems. A volcanic oceanic island, 22 miles long and 4 to 6 miles wide, Isla Guadalupe features extremely rugged terrain. The availability of fresh water is limited, especially at the higher elevations (which reach 4200 feet at the northern end of the island). Since the island has always been geologically isolated from the mainland, a high proportion of the plants and animals are endemic. Although a substantial body of scientific literature exists regarding the island's biology, most work has been conducted at more accessible lower elevations where fresh water is more available, or was conducted decades ago. There are still many critical issues in need of study. Additionally, in order to create a plan to halt and reverse the damage done by introduced species, surveys must be conducted now.

SDNHM has a 100-year-long tradition of investigation and exploration of Isla Guadalupe, beginning in the 1890s. Bird and mammal curator Laurence Huey also conducted early expeditions in 1923 and 1924. Over twenty expeditions between 1948 and 1988 by botany curator Reid Moran led to the publication of The Flora of Guadalupe Island, Mexico in 1996. Entomology curator Charles Harbison visited the island four times in the 1950s, and current entomology collection manager David Faulkner made three trips in the 1980s. Additionally, trips by bird and mammal curator Joseph Jehl and Research Associate Bill Everett between 1969 and 1980 led to the publication of History and status of the avifauna of Isla Guadalupe, Mexico in 1985. Their research indicated the need to conduct a more exhaustive search for the storm-petrel.

Mexican scientists, especially from CICESE in Ensenada, have also conducted research on Isla Guadalupe in the past decade. They have found a new breeding colony of Laysan Albatrosses and other previously-unrecorded bird species.

Introduction | Project Overview | Participants | Isla Guadalupe
Ornithology | Botany | Entomology | Herpetology