The tiny, remote islands of Galápagos have played a large and central role in the study of evolution and conservation. The relevance of the Galápagos is particularly poignant in this year of the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth. Together we will explore the paradox of the islands’ centrality with regard to these studies and the current threats to their own environment, focusing on the lessons learned from the study of flora an fauna in Galápagos from Darwin’s time to the preset. Using case-study material on finches, iguanas, tortoises, and more, we will explore current theory and debate about adaptation, sexual selection, speciation, and adaptive radiation. We will also consider the special challenges the Galápagos Islands pose today for conservation, both because of the unusual biota and because of increasing human impact on their fragile ecosystems.

Galapagos photographs this page courtesy of Dr. William Durham