Galapagos Case Study

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G eo Factsheet
January 2003 www.curriculumpress.co.uk Number 144
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ­
BIODIVERSITY UNDER THREAT?
Introduction
The Galapagos Islands are situated in the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km The Islands and the marine areas which surround them are areas of global
west of Ecuador and are a province of Ecuador (see Fig.1). importance due the numbers of unique and rare species that live there and
are an example of a natural World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, the World
Fig. 1 The Galapagos Islands. Heritage Site is at risk, not so much from the rising tide of ecotourism
Ecuador N which has threatened to degenerate into mass tourism but more from the
phenomenal increase in population brought about by the twin economic
opportunities of employment in fishing and tourism. In 1997 UNESCO
(responsible for World Heritage Sites) threatened to place the Galapagos
on the danger list so a number of strategies have recently been put in
Isla Isla Galapagos place to `save' the islands.
Darwin Islands
Pinta
Isla
Fig. 2 Climate data for the Galapagos Islands.
Wolf
Isla Isla
92 The climate is influenced by position of the islands on or near the equator:
Marchena Genovesa
Equator Jan ­ Apr is the hot rainy season with daily showers.
The Panama current warms the seas and the air above.
Isla San Salvador
Bartolomé Isla Seymour 100
Jun - Nov is cooler and less
Isla Baltra 90
Isla rain as the influence of the cold
Fernandina Isla Santa Cruz 80 Peruvian Current dominates.
Isla Isla 70
Temperature °C
Isabela Pinzon
Isla Santa Fe Isla San 60
Ppt (mm)
30
Cristobel 50 25
Isla
Santa 40 20
N Maria Isla 30 15
0 20 40km Española 10
20
10 5
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS - BRIEF HISTORY 0 0
Pre 1535 Evidence of Indian (Inca) habitation. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Month
1535 First discovered by Spanish bishop. Reported giant
tortoises ­ galapago ­ name stuck. Used as base by sailors.
1600-1710 The islands were charted.
In years when an El Niño event occurs the Peruvian current is forced
1832 Islands became a province of Ecuador.
south and sea temperatures rise. This causes less upwelling of nutrients
1835 Charles Darwin spent 5 weeks observing wildlife and
on which the food chains are based (see Fig. 3). (In the 1982/3 El Niño
making notes that would lead to theory of evolution.
event no albatross and only 25% of penguin chicks hatched successfully.)
1934 Galapagos declared a wildlife sanctuary.
1959 97% of the land area was declared a National Park.
1960s Organised tourism began. Fig. 3 Upwelling.
1978 Islands are declared a World Heritage Site.
Cool, nutrient rich Nutrients brought to surface act
1984 Islands declared a World Biosphere Reserve. water forced up as base for foodweb, supporting
1986 The Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve is created. by sides of island fish, birds and some mammals.
2001 The Marine Reserve is included in the World Heritage
Site designation.
Warm, equatorial Cool remnant of
current Peruvian current
These volcanic islands consist of 13 major and 6 smaller islands plus
many islets, giving a land mass total of 7,888 km2 spread over 50,000 km2 Equitorial counter
ocean. Five of the islands are inhabited by a total population of 21,000 current
people whose numbers are increasing by about 8% per year due to both
natural increase and mainly immigration from mainland Ecuador.
2
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The Galapagos Islands ­ Biodiversity under threat? Geo Factsheet
www.curriculumpress.co.uk
Biodiversity and the Galapagos
Geology of the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands have a high level of biodiversity and are the only
The Islands are a result of submarine volcanic activity and are
places in the world where you can find penguins and albatross living in the
relatively young.…read more

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The Galapagos Islands ­ Biodiversity under threat? Geo Factsheet
www.curriculumpress.co.uk
Fig. 6 Threats to the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands.…read more

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The Galapagos Islands ­ Biodiversity under threat? Geo Factsheet
www.curriculumpress.co.uk
5. Climate Change Tourism
As there is increasing evidence of global climate change due to a rise in All visitors to the Islands have to pay an entrance fee of $100, part of
carbon dioxide emissions from human use of fossil fuels, there seems to which goes towards the costs of maintaining the Charles Darwin
be a corresponding increase in the number of El Niño events.…read more

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The Galapagos Islands ­ Biodiversity under threat? Geo Factsheet
www.curriculumpress.co.uk
Fishing Exam Questions
The National Park only has one patrol boat and has difficulty in patrolling Using an example of a named and located ecosystem you have studied:
such a large area of ocean (another boat has been provided by a wildlife
charity). There are very strict limits around the Islands but these are (a) Outline the threats to it. (10 marks)
constantly being breached.…read more

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