Bio 100 Week 9 Day 7 Ecological Properties Final The_Galapagos_Islands

Bio 100 Week 9 Day 7 Ecological Properties Final The_Galapagos_Islands

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The Galapagos Islands [Your Name] [Class] February 22, 2009
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The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of recent volcanic origin located on the Equator approximately 600 miles from Ecuador and 1000 miles from Panama. The age of the islands ranges from approximately 4 million years old to less than 1 million years old. There are more than 70 individual land masses with in the island chain. More than 40 are nothing more than tiny islets that are rarely visited by people. Of the 19 larger islands, only 13 have an area greater than 6 square miles. The Galapagos in total consists of 27,968 square miles of ocean and 5,000 square miles of land. The landscape consists of lava fields, tuff cones, and calderas (Kricher, 2006). The plants and animals that are found in the Galapagos colonized the volcanic islands mainly by accident, or by air or water currents. In general, the biodiversity of the Galapagos is low compared to mainland areas, but the endemic species that are present are unique due to their isolation. Some species even developed into different varieties based on the individual islands on which they were located. The endemic animals are mostly fearless due to the lack of natural predators. The only terrestrial mammals that are native to the islands are rice rats and two species of bats. Giant tortoises evolved into fourteen distinct forms on the different islands. There are 13 species of finches that have adapted to a wide range of different foods. These are known as Darwin’s finches. Waved albatross breed solely on Espanola Island and other birds such as blue- and red-footed and masked boobies populate the coasts alongside penguins that are the only ones to inhabit tropical waters. This small land mass is home to 1600 species of insects, 80 spiders, 300 beetles, 150 mites, 80 land snails, 650 sea shells and other mollusks, 200 sea stars and urchins, 120 crabs, and more than 300 species of fish (Galapagos Conservation Trust, 2008).
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On the highlands of the islands, near the peaks of the volcanoes, plants such as the tree daisies, tree ferns, bromeliads, and orchids thrive. Giant prickly pear and candelabra cacti are found along the coasts and the tiny Brachycereus cacti is found only on the barren lava flows. Endemic species of cotton plants, tomato, pepper, guava, and passion flower are also found on the Galapagos. Many plants such as varieties of daisies have evolved on different islands into whole systems of endemic species, giving biologists prime examples of adaptive radiation (Galapagos Conservation Trust, 2008). Though 97% of the area of the Galapagos is preserved, there are still many threats to the unique biodiversity of the islands system. Some of these problems have existed for more than a hundred years, but a few of the newer threats have only come up in the past two or three decades. Among the greatest threats to the native species biodiversity is the arrival of invasive species, over-harvesting of marine resources, more frequent pollution
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This note was uploaded on 12/21/2009 for the course COM 220 AAPSY-012 taught by Professor Danstone during the Spring '09 term at University of Phoenix.

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Bio 100 Week 9 Day 7 Ecological Properties Final The_Galapagos_Islands

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