This course views the Galapagos Islands as a “living laboratory” for the study of evolution and conservation. We will explore this laboratory through both the scientific literature about Galapagos and its unusual flora and fauna, and through our first-hand visit to the archipelago. Part of the course will be historical, focused on the history of scientific research in Galapagos ever since Darwin, and part will be contemporary, assessing ongoing research on evolution and conservation in the Galapagos today. Readings and class discussions will be fairly evenly divided between these two dimensions. A key theme of the class is that evolution and conservation are closely related sciences in Galapagos: time and time again, we will see how the evolution of Galapagos-specific adaptations has left indigenous organisms with special vulnerabilities that are a big conservation challenge today.
William Durham received his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan before joining the Stanford faculty in human biology and anthropology. His current research focuses on conservation and development issues in Latin America, especially in the Amazon and Galápagos, and on connections between environmental change and emerging infectious diseases. Winner of the MacArthur Prize and several awards for research and teaching, Durham is author of Scarcity and Survival in Central America and Coevolution: Genes, Culture, and Human Diversity.
Caroline Ferguson (SCA)
Caroline Ferguson is a PhD student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER), advised by Bill Durham. Her research takes place in Palau and the Marshall Islands, two independent island nations in the Pacific Ocean once colonized by the United States. Her interests include environmental justice, women's fisheries, and protected areas. Caroline was also a Stanford undergraduate, where she received her BA in Human Biology and her MS in Earth Systems. Her fondest memories of are of hanging-out on the trampoline at Synergy and studying abroad in Australia and Palau.
Neil Nathan (SCA)
Neil is a rising senior majoring in Earth Systems on the Biosphere track. He has spent time studying at the Hopkins Marine Station and conducted research and assisted with coral conservation projects in Palau. Neil hopes to find a career in global conservation through international policy and advocacy with NGOs. He’s also incredibly excited to explore the Galápagos with the amazing sophomores and alumni!
Click on the links in the sidebar for introductions to trip participants.
Margot Bellon: The Mysterious Diet of Sharp-Beaked Ground Finches
Foster Birnbaum: The Scalesia Genus as an In Situ Model for Evolutionary Theory
Rhys Duarte: Are You Finching Kidding Me? The El Niño Booby Trap
Jonathan Hernandez: Are You Lichen The Food? The Tortoise Diet
Peter Kwak & Lorenzo de La Puente: Galápagos Tourism: Is it Sustainable?
Zoe von Gerlach: Why do Nazca Boobies (Sula granti) perform NAV behavior?
There are two kinds of resources provided below: some for travel preparation and photography, and others related to the themes of the course. These links are provided as supplements to, and not replacements for, content you will receive directly from Stanford Travel-Study. Some of the information provided below may be been updated in more recent documents.
Trip Preparation and Photography
Click here to review the packing list from 2009.
Click here for a short presentation on Responsible Tourism from 2015.
Click here to find more travel information from 2009.
Click here for a list of health and medical considerations from 2009.
Click here for snorkeling tips from 2009.
Click here for information about La Pinta from 2009.
Click here for Professor Durham's introduction to photography.
Click here to learn some tips for using f-stops.
Click here to learn some tips for using ISO.
Darwin Correspondence Project – most of his letters, with detailed timeline and searchable for key terms!
Voyage of the Beagle
Darwin’s book, The Voyage of the Beagle (searchable)
Darwin's book, A Naturalist's Voyage Around the World