Galapagos Giant Tortoises brings together researchers and conservationists to share the most current knowledge of the Galapagos giant tortoise species. The book begins with an overview of the history of the relationship between humans and Galapagos giant tortoises, beginning with their exploitation by pirates and whalers. It then shifts to detail their evolution, taxonomy and distribution, describing movement ecology, reproduction, behaviour and conservation efforts, including issues of invasive species and introduced diseases. The final portion of the book looks ahead to the future, addressing the implications of climate change and case studies of tortoise restoration.
As a release in the Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscape series, Galapagos Giant Tortoises provides a valuable resource for researchers and conservationists, as well as students of biology, wildlife conservation and herpetology.
Section I: Overview
1. The Galapagos Archipelago, island home of giant tortoises
2. Galapagos tortoises: Protagonists in the spectacle of life on Earth
Section II: History of Human - Tortoise Interactions
3. Human perceptions of Galapagos tortoises through history
4. The era of exploitation: 1700-1959
5. Darwin and Galapagos tortoises
6. The Collectors: Beginnings of scientific inquiry
Section III: The Natural History of Galapagos Giant Tortoises
7. Evolution and phylogenetics
8. Morphology and taxonomy
11. Behavior and Diet
12. Population biology
15. Role in Ecosystems
16. Climate change
Section IV: Conservation: Slow Rescue from Near Destruction
17. History of Galapagos tortoise conservation
18. Monitoring and research
20. Eradication and control of invasive species in support of tortoise conservation
21. Populations after 50 years of conservation
Section V: Restoration Case Studies
22. Española Island: From the brink of extinction to recovery
23. Pinzón Island: From a century of zero tortoise hatchlings to a growing population
24. Floreana and Pinta Islands: Repopulating islands through lost lineage recovery
25. Santa Fe Island: Return of tortoises via a replacement species
Section VI: Into the Future
26. Beyond rescue to full recovery
Dr James Gibbs is an Associate Chair and Distinguished Professor of Vertebrate Conservation Biology in the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, New York, US. Since 2014, he has also served as Director of the Roosevelt Wildlife Station at SUNY-ESF and Adjunct Scientist for the Galapagos Conservancy. He received his PhD in forestry and environmental studies from Yale University, Connecticut, US. He has co-authored five books and numerous journal publications on wildlife and conservation biology. Dr Gibbs is also a member of the Society for Conservation Biology, The Wildlife Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr Linda Cayot has worked for the Galapagos Conservation for more than 30 years. She first went to the Galapagos in 1981 to study giant tortoises for her PhD from Syracuse University, New York, US and has stayed involved with the Islands ever since. Dr Cayot served as herpetologist of the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) from 1988 to 1998, during which time she supervised both the giant tortoise and land iguana breeding and rearing programs, worked extensively with Lonesome George, the last remaining member of the tortoise subspecies Chelonoidis abingdoni from Pinta Island, and supervised Ecuadorian students studying the endemic reptiles of the Galapagos, among many other things. In her final year with the CDRS, Linda coordinated the start of the successful Project Isabela, aimed at ridding Isabela and other islands of feral goats. She has worked as Galapagos Conservancy’s Science Advisor since 2008. Dr. Cayot continues to collaborate with the Galapagos National Park Service in strategizing and planning future conservation efforts for tortoises throughout the islands.
Dr Washington Tapia Aguilera is the director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative under the Galapagos Conservancy. He received his master's degree in Conservation of Tropical Biodiversity from San Pablo University CEU, Madrid, Spain and later his PhD in Biodiversity and Environmental Studies from the University of Málaga, Málaga, Spain. He has led conferences and headed numerous research publications focusing on the conservation and environmental factors on Galapagos animals including giant tortoises and land iguanas.