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The Galápagos – A Lesson in Biodiversity

Connected by four major ocean currents, the Island ecosystems are home to high levels of biodiversity and the geographical isolation of Galápagos has limited the immigration of new species. Islands are a hotspot of biodiversity, with many endemic species which are found nowhere else on Earth.

Biodiversity refers to how many types of animals, birds, reptiles are living in one area.  A place with high biodiversity, like the Galapagos, will have many different species. 

Blue-footed booby biodiversity
Blue-Footed Booby
Giant Galapagos Tortoise
Giant Galapagos Tortoise

My Recent Trip to the Galapagos was Education in Biodiversity for this Science Teacher!

I spent two weeks in the Galápagos Archipelago studying the rock formations, volcanic activity and of course, gawking with amazement at the animals! Here are my science takeaways from this incredible experience.

  1.  Organisms that are protected the way they are in the Galápagos, have no fear and some are even curious about humans. You could be taking a photo of a marine iguana only to look down and see a sea lion pup had untied your shoe! This type of interaction is bound to affect the organisms that live there, and I am hoping my ecotourism dollars are making it worthwhile for the people to continue to make the endemic populations of animals and plants a high priority.
  2. It is easy to see concept like adaptive radiation. With 13 subspecies of giant tortoises currently living in the Galápagos , it is easy to see how each subspecies has developed slightly different characteristics that help it to get food and survive.
  3. Geographic isolation really makes a huge impact when it comes to evolution. It took me three plans and a bus and a boat just to get to the catamaran that would be my home for two weeks. The Galápagos  sit 600 miles off Ecuador’s coast. It is a bit of a trip to get there. In addition, the Galápagos is doing everything it can to deter invasive species…which would certainly mean the end to some of the biodiversity and endemism. Upon arrival in the Galápagos , your bags are searched by a dog (not for bombs or drugs). They are searched for seeds, fruit that could interfere with the delicate ecosystems in the Galápagos .
  4. Evolution takes many many years. Looking at the four species of iguana made me think about how they once must have all had a common ancestor. Probably the green iguana from South America. Over millions of years a process of random traits arising, competition between organisms and adaptations combined to give us the three land iguanas and one marine iguana on the Galápagos 

 

The Galapagos Hawk is the Apex Predator on the Islands

Galapagos Hawk

I have so much more information about the Galápagos. I am busy making resources based on this experience.

Want to learn more about Conservation Efforts in the Galapagos?

Biodiversity, Endemism, Adaptation and Natural Selection are a few of the things we can learn by taking a close look at the Galápagos
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Your students will love reading about the biodiversity and endemic species in the Galápagos. Students will learn about adaptations that organisms living in these specific habitats have developed. For example, my personal favorite the marine iguanas which have developed the ability to hold their breath for up to 10 minutes as they forage for algae under the surf.

marine iguana

This resource will discuss why the region has rich biodiversity and will introduce students to exciting animals and their unique adaptations that help them to survive and thrive in the Galapagos. This resource includes reading passages, use of phenomena, comprehension questions, vocabulary development, and a Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning activity. Get your unit today!

Biodiversity refers to how many types of animals, birds, reptiles are living in one area.  A place with high biodiversity, like the Galapagos, will have many different species. 

This set of tab books is perfect for practicing reading informational text and learning about animals in the Galápagos Islands.  There are two tab books, one on animals and one on birds of the Galápagos Islands.  A word search and crossword puzzle are included for vocabulary development with each one. Students can write a short response on each page of the tab book. 

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