Galapagos Islands

Dixie State University Summer 2015*



Course Information:

Course:  Natural History of the Galapagos Islands  (BIOL- 4951R).
The Galapagos Islands are a living laboratory for the study of ecology, environmental change, and the conflicts between nature and society. Free of humans and predators for almost all of its history, these “Enchanted Islands” have developed some of the most unique life forms on the planet, highly adapted to their surroundings and living in ecological isolation from the rest of the world. Charles Darwin’s famous visit in 1835 and his subsequent development of the theory of natural selection brought attention to the islands. Since then, the importance of the islands has been recognized by a series of protections and designations: in 1959, the Galapagos National Park was formed, and UNESCO designated the Galapagos as a World Heritage Site in 1978, a designation to honor the “magnificent and unique” natural features of the Galapagos and to ensure their conservation for future generations. These islands were further deemed a Biosphere Reserve in 1987, and the Galapagos Marine Reserve was created in 2001. Today, the Galapagos Islands are in a period of rapid change and growing crisis.

The special characteristics that have made the Galapagos so important to science since the 19th century will provide an ideal environmental laboratory for students in this program, while the increasing human pressure in the Galapagos will serve to illustrate the complex linkages between economic development and the environment.

This course will emphasize how organisms, especially animals, have evolved on the isolated volcanic archipelago of the Galapagos.  These islands famously influenced Charles Darwin when he visited in the 1830s, and we will see exactly what he noticed here.  As soon as we arrive on the islands, we will ask our guide to explain the formation of the islands, addressing similarities and differences with the Hawaiian archipelago, another famous “hotspot” archipelago. Our guide will also mention the Guayas River in Guayaquil, and its role in Galapagos biology.  In addition to the schedule below, each evening, usually after dinner, our guide will summarize the events of the day with regards to biology/ecology of the species seen that day.  Students will take notes on these discussions, which will form the basis for the required paper that will be turned in by May 25th.  In addition, the guide will explain what we will be seeing the next day, and when we should meet and where.

Program Costs

DSU Expenses
Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Tuition                  $474   (3 credits)
Incidentals    $50
Study Abroad Fee   $250

DSU Admissions Application  $35 (required only if non-student)

Student Insurance  $17

Trip fee           $3407

DSU Total:      $776

Grand Total:   $4183

Application Deadlines: $200 discount if you enroll by October 15   at website below

Jan 15 – Application and $500 nonrefundable deposit due

Mar 15 –  Remainder of fee due

Tentative Itinerary  (May 11, 2015 – May 18, 2015):

Day 1: Fly to Ecuador

Arrive in Quito

Day 2: Quito

Take a guided tour of Quito

  • Independence Plaza
  • Government Palace

Visit Santo Domingo Monastery
Take an excursion to the equatorial line
Visit the Intinan Museum

Day 3: Baltra + Santa Cruz

Fly to Baltra
Continue to Santa Cruz Island
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station

Day 4: San Cristóbal island

Enjoy a boat excursion to San Cristóbal Island

Day 5: Floreana Island

Enjoy a boat excursion to Floreana Island

Day 6: Santa Cruz + Quito

Return to Baltra
Visit the Twin Craters
Fly to Quito

Day 7: Cotopaxi

Travel to Cotopaxi
Visit Cotopaxi National Park

  • Cotopaxi Volcano

Return to Quito

Day 8: Depart for home

FURTHER NOTE   to enroll go to

Bringing your own snorkeling equipment is highly recommended, although rentals may be available.  The waters around the islands are relatively warm, but a thin wetsuit improves flotation and might add to your enjoyment of the snorkeling opportunities.   Underwater cameras are highly recommended!

Program faculty    Curt Walker  435-652-7785

All DSU expenses should be paid to the Cashier’s Office located on the 1st floor of the Holland Building  by the appropriate deadlines.  Payment via phone @ 435-652-7605.