Please note: not to be confused with the 1997 book by Michael H. Jackson by the same title.
The Galápagos Islands are a paradise for birders, botanists, geologists, and snorkelers, with many islands still devoid of human habitation. Since they lie more than 600 miles west of South America and were never connected to the mainland, almost all plant and animal life arrived here by chance. As Charles Darwin discovered, the evolution of plants and animals is more visible here than anywhere else on earth.
John Kricher, a renowned ecologist and Galápagos ecotour guide, presents a detailed natural history of this spectacular archipelago. He looks at the amazing diversity of life found here, from iguanas to penguins, and explains the fascinating geology of these remote islands. Throughout his narrative, Kricher weaves the intriguing history of evolutionary biology that is intimately connected with the islands, and describes Darwin's adventures and observations while he was visiting in 1835.
Indeed, Kricher takes his chapter titles from comments scattered throughout Darwin's account of his expedition around the world, The Voyage of the Beagle. Kricher closes his book by assessing the conservation efforts to preserve the Galápagos – and the challenges these efforts have met. Of special interest is the book's richly detailed island-by-island guide. For both the ecotraveler and the nature enthusiast, Galápagos: A Natural History is essential reading.
"Galápagos: A Natural History will do well when packed alongside a couple of field guides and a pair of binoculars. Its lucid and crisp chapters on the islands' origins and geology, human history, Darwin's findings and the flora and fauna will give the background story to visitors."
– Tim Dee, Times Literary Supplement
"Beyond the wry anecdotes of human involvement in the Galápagos, there is a wealth of lucid natural history in this fine book. Kricher covers all the essentials [...] [and] provides the clearest explanation I have ever seen of how the ocean currents affect the Galápagos climate, nutrient availability and biogeography [...] Kricher has provided the best available introduction to Galápagos natural history."
– Kenneth S. Saladin, National Center for Science Education Reports
"This is an excellent book for the many ecotourists visiting the Galápagos who want an intelligent and stimulating account of the islands and their animals and plants. It is written in a clear, accessible, interesting, and yet scholarly style."
– Peter R. Grant, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, and author of Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches
"This great book, written by a leading naturalist and Darwin scholar, captures the nature of the Galápagos – its landforms, its flora and fauna, and its place in history. Within the book's pages, one is taken on a tour that illuminates this enchanted archipelago. Having led twenty-five cruises to the Galápagos, I would suggest this as a delightful read on Darwin's isles."
– Peter Alden, National Audubon Society
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John Kricher is Meneely Professor of Biology at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. He has led ecotours to many places around the world, including the Galapagos Islands, coastal New England, the Pacific Northwest, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru, Trinidad, and Ecuador. He is the author of A Neotropical Companion.