A Galapagos

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Note: This is not meant to be an exhaustive bibliography. Rather, it is a list of books that are readily available and in general do not require extensive background. In addition, there are a few books that are out of print but fairly easy to find if you look. You might try checking the used and rare books link on my home page. The Charles Darwin Foundation has receently published a comprehensive Galapagos Bibliography 1535-1995 which is readily availaible through them.

By Darwin

Voyage of the Beagle There are many inexpensive paperback editions available as well as an on-line version.

The Beagle Diary R.D. Keynes, editor. Along with his scientific journals, Darwin kept a general diary of his travels and impressions that he sent home to his family when the occasion permitted. He used this as the basis for The Voyage but it records his impressions fresh as he experienced them, without the filter of retrospection. Cambridge University Press.

Charles Darwin's Zoology Notes and Lists from H.M.S. Beagle R.D. Keynes, editor. Cambridge University Press.

Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle Lady Nora Barlow, ed. A compilation of the letters that Darwin sent home plus extracts from some of his scientific note-books. Barlow is Darwin's grand-daughter. Philosophical Library.

The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs The first volume of Darwin's Beagle geological studies. Available in paperback from The University of Arizona Press.

Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands Visited During the Voyage of HMS Beagle The second volume of Darwin's Beagle geological studies, this volume contains a chapter on the geology of the Galapagos.

Geological Observations on South America The third volume of Darwin's Beagle geological studies, this volume describes the evidence for the raising of South America. Likewise, I know of no current reprint.

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin. Lady Nora Barlow, ed. This is a very short work written by Darwin towards the end of his life, for his own amusement and the interest of his children and grand-children. After his death, it was heavily edited by his wife. The W. W. Norton edition is the only complete edition, with all the cuts restored.

On the Origin of Species There are many inexpensive paperback editions available, but it is always best to read the first edition - Darwinism in its purest form. In later volumes, Darwin tried to accomodate criticisms, most of which were wrong. The Origin is a big, heavy, intimidating volume, but there is a very nice abridged version that is beatifully illustrated and very accessible. It is edited by Richard Leaky. The Origin can also be found on-line.


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About Darwin

Charles Darwin: Voyaging. Volume 1 of a Biography Janet Browne. A large, well-written, and highly readable biography of Darwin from birth through the voyage of the Beagle and the first few years back in England. The book covers the years of barnacle work and ends as Darwin is about to write The Origin. Browne is one of the editors of Darwin's correspondence, and she knows her subject intimately. This work is a more about Darwin as a person, as compared to the Desmond and Moore book, which places Darwin in a broader political and scientific context. The two books are both outstanding, and complement each other nicely. Published in 1995, I am eagerly awaiting volume 2, which is scheduled for publication this fall. Alfred A. Knopf.

Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist Adrian Desmond and James Moore. Among the very best, biographies of Darwin, it is big, intimidating, and scholarly, but extremely well written and easy to read. Warner Books.

Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution Randal Keynes. A history of the development of Darwin's ideas set again the background of his family life. Written by Darwin's grea-great grandson. Riverhead Books.

Three Men of the Beagle. Richard Lee Marks. The story of Darwin, FitzRoy, and most especially Jemmy Button, a Tierra del Fuegian. Jemmy was one of four Fuegians taken by FitzRoy to England on the Beagle voyage previous to Darwin's. It was FitzRoy's intention to educate the "savages" and return them home in hopes that their benevolent treatment would translate into help for shipwrecked sailors who, typically were murdered by the Fuegians. The book follows Jemmy's surprising and tragic history after being returned to his family. Alfred A. Knopf.

Darwin for Beginners Jonathan Miller and Borin van Loon. A short, entertaining cartoon introduction to Darwin's life and work. Don't be fooled by the cartoon format. It presents a lot of accurate, stimulating information in a compact, readable form. Panthon Books.

Darwin and the Beagle Allan Moorehead. A beautifully written and illustrated account of Darwin's voyage. Penguin Books.

The Origin Iriving Stone. A carefully researched biographical novel about Darwin and his times. The book brings to life Darwin's research, and the great scientists of the day. Doubleday.

In the Wake of Darwin's Beagle Alan Villiers. National Geographic, October 1969.


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Exploration and Human History

My Father's Island: A Galapagos Quest Johanna Angermeyer. The Angermeyers were among those drawn to the Galapagos following publication of Beebe's book, and they are one of the most prominent families in Puerto Ayora. Viking.

Galapagos: Worlds End William Beebe. I read this just after my first visit to the Galapagos, and before I knew that I would ever have the opportunity to return. I found myself wishing I had read it before the trip. Beebe was a famous zoologist at the New York Zoological Society who wrote many wonderful books about his explorations and travels around the world. This book recounts his first expedition to Galapagos in 1922. He was the first person to describe the Galapagos as beautiful and his book led directly to the colonization of the Galapagos by europeans in the 1930's. Among the many people inspired to settle in Galapagos were the Ritters and the Witmers (see the Witmer and Treherne references). Originally published by G. P. Putnam and Sons, it has been reprinted in paperback by Dover and is easy to find.

The Arcturus Adventure William Beebe. Recounts Beebe's second trip to the Galapagos. As wonderful as Galapagos: Worlds End, but difficult to find. G.B. Putnam and Sons.

The Enchanted Islands: A Five-Year Adventure in the Galapagos Ainslie and Frances Conway. The Conways lived in the Galapagos in the late '30's and into the beginning of World War II. G.P. Putnam's Sons.

The Enchanted Islands: The Galapagos Discovered John Hickman. A good account of the human history of the Galapagos from Inca times through the buccaneers and sealers, to modern settlement and conservation. Anthony Nelson.

The Curse of the Giant Tortoise: Tragedies, Mysteries and Crimes in the Galapagos Islands. Octavio Latorre. A comprehensive history of humans in the Galapagos. Not a great translation from Spanish, but very interesting. Readily available in Quito.

Clinker Islands: A Complete History of the Galapagos Archipelago Lillian Otterman. An good of the human history of the Galapagos from Inca times through the buccaneers and sealers, to about the mid-60's, with emphasis on the many yachts that visited the archipelago. McGuinn and McGuire.

The Galapagos Affair John Treherne. An investigation into the conflict on Isla Floreana in the 1930's between the eccentric philosopher Friedrich Ritter, the Witmer family, and Baroness Eloise Wagner de Bosquet, self-styled "Empress of Galapagos". By the time the affair was concluded, Dr. Ritter had died under suspicious circumstances, the Baroness and her lover had disappeared, and their servant (her former lover) had died of thirst and starvation after being shipwrecked on one of the outer islands. The mystery of the deaths and disappearances are unsolved to this day. Random House.

Floreana Margaret Wittmer. The story of the Wittmers' attempts to settle in Galapagos. Includes their account of the famous Galapagos affair. Anthony Nelson.


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Natural History

The Galapagos: Proceedings of the Galapagos International Scientific Project Robert I. Bowman, editor. A series of papers, some more technical than others, about the Galapagos. University of California Press.

Patterns of Evolution in Galapagos Organisms Robert I Bowman, Margaret Berson, and Alan E. Leviton, editors. A series of papers, some more technical than others, about the Galapagos. Pacific Division, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Galapagos Islands Pierre Constant. Now in it's third edition, this is a very accessible paperback that gives a general overview of Galapagos natural history, similiar to the Jackson book. It is nicely illustrated and particularly strong in the marine material (see Constant's book in the Marine Life section of this reading list). However, to my mind, the treatment is much skimpier than Jackson's. Odessey Passport Books.

Galapagos: The Noah's Ark of the Pacific Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt. Eibl-Eibesfeldt visited the Galapagos in 1954 and 1957. His visits convinced him that the Galapagos were teetering on the brink of total devestation and were in desperate need of conservation. His work led directly to the foundation of the Charles Darwin Research Station and the establishment of the Galapagos National Park. Doubleday.

Galapagos: Stark Worlds of Wildlife Ron Fisher. In "Majestic Island Worlds" National Geographic Society.

Galapagos Wildlife: A Visitor's Guide David Horwell and Pete Oxford. At just 139 pages and very broadly organized, this book has little depth to it, although it has many interesting tid-bits about the natural history of the animals and descriptions of the major visitor sites. The book is beautifully photographed. Bradt Publications.

Galapagos: A Natural History 2nd ed. M.H. Jackson. If you are going to read one book for the Galapagos, this is it. The trips that I organize for my students include a guide book and this is the one I buy. It costs US $25 and can be ordered readily from your favorite book store. University of Calgary Press.

The Galapagos Islands Roger Perry. A short, easy to read introduction to the islands.

Galapagos - Key Environments Rober Perry. A collection of short articles about different aspects of Galapagos ecology. Pergamon Press.

Galapagos Wildlife Under Pressure Dieter and Mary Plage. National Geographic, January, 1988.

Galapagos: Discovery on Darwin's Islands David W. Steadman and Steven Zousmer. Steadman is a world-renowned ornithologist and expert on fossil birds. He has done pioneering work on the fossil history of Darwin's finches. The book is illustrated with water-color paintings by Steadman's brother Lee. Smithsonian Institution Press.

The Galapagos Islands: The Essential Handbook for Exploring, Enjoying, and Understanding Darwin's Enchanted Islands Marylee Stephenson. I'm not sure that I completely agree with the subtitle because it is quite skimpy on the natural history. But the book features descriptions of most of the visitor sites that you will be seeing. The Mountaineers Press.

Birds, Mammals, & Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands Andy Swash and Rob Still. A short, 168 page field gude with computer-montaged illustrations. it is geared for identification, and the broad natural history is limited. I find it very helpful for the identification of less obvious birds such as finches and shore-brds and waders. Yale University Press.

Darwin's Islands: A Natural History of the Galapagos Ian Thornton. An excellent overview of the islands. The Natural History Press.


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A Guide to the Birds of Galapagos Islands Isabel Castro and Antonia Phillips. Princeton University Press.

Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches, 2nd ed Peter Grant. Grant and his wife have made detailed studies of the finches over the past ten years and this book summarizes much of their work. It is almost the last word on a very complicated group of birds, but it is very heavy reading and requires a real committment. But see the Weiner reference below. Princeton University Press.

Evolutionary Dynamics of a Natural Population: The Large Cactus Finch of the Galapagos B. Rosemary Grant and Peter R. Grant. Same comments as above. University of Chicago Press.

A Field Guide to the Birds of Galapagos Michael Harris. Collins.

Galapagos Diary: A complete Guide to the Archipelago's Wildlife Hermann Heinzel and Barnaby Hall. University of California Press.

Darwin's Finches: An Essay on the General Biological Theory of Evolution David Lack. This is the classic study of the finches, written in 1947 and reprinted in 1968. It is technical, but well written. Although somewhat out of date because of the Grants, it is still a terrific introduction to the finches. Peter Smith.

Galapagos: Islands of Birds Bryan Nelson. A very intimate look at most aspects of bird life in the Galapagos, especially boobies. William Morrow and Co.

The Beak of the Finch: A story of Evolution in Our Time Johnathan Weiner. A Pulitzer Prize-winning popular account of the Grants' work and its place in modern evolutionary theory. Very accessible. Alfred A. Knopf.




Iguanas of the World: Their Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation Gordon M. Burghardt and A. Stanley Rand, eds. A large volume containing articles on various problems in iguana biology. Several good articles about Galapagos iguanas. Noyes Publications.

Restoring the Tortoise Dynasty: The Decline and Recovery of the Galapagos Giant Tortose Godfrey Merlen. A large-format, nicely photographed book describing the tortoise conservation efforts of the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park. Available from the Charles Darwin Foundation .

Turtles,. Tortoises & Terrapins: Survivors in Armor. Ronald Orenstein. A beautifully illustrated examinaton of the natural history, evolution, and conservation of chelonians. Firefly Books.

Herpetology, 2nd ed. F.H. Pough, R. M. Andrews, J.E. Cadle, M.L Crump, A.H. Savitzky & K. D. Wells. Prentice-Hall.

The Galapagos Tortoises: Nomenclatural and Survival Status Peter C.H. Prichard. A recent research monograph that provides a comprehensive survey of the current status of tortoises. It is not so heavily scientific that it is inaccessable to the layman. Chelonian Research Foundation.

The Gigantic Land Tortises of the Galapagos Archipelago John Van Denburgh. A recent reprint of Van Denburgh's classic 1914 monographs on giant tortoises based on material obtained by the 1905-06 California Academy of Sciences expedition to the Galapagos. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.



Marine Life

Marine Life of the Galapagos: A Guide to the Fishes, Whales, Dolphins, and Other Marine Animals Pierre Constant. Good, but not as complete as Humann, below. However, it does have a good section on marine invertebrates.

Subtidal Galapagos James Cribb. Beautiful photography of Galapagos marine life, but not a comprehensive guide. Camden House.

The Fishes of the Galapagos Islands Jack Stein Grove and Robert J. Lavenberg. A large in-depth survey of Galapagos fish with many good photos. It is great for post-Galapagos study, but it is too big and too intimidating to serve as a take-along field guide.

Reef Fish Identification: Galapagos Paul Humann. Probably the best and most complete guide to Galapagos fishes. New World Publications, Inc. and Libri Mundi.

A Field Guide to Sea Stars and other Echinoderms of Galapagos Cleveland P. Hickman, Jr. Echinoderms are a conspicuous part of the Galapagos snorkeling experience. This nice little handbook is easy and accessible. Along with the Humann book, this is a definite "must-bring". Sugar Spring Press.

A Field Guide to Marine Molluscs of Galapagos Cleveland P. Hickman, Jr.and Yve Finet. Like echinoderms, molluscs are a conspicuous part of the Galapagos snorkeling experience. And like its companion echinoderm book, this little handbook, is easy, accessible, and beautifully illustrated. Another definite "must-bring". Sugar Spring Press.

Galapagos Marine Invertebrates: Taxonomy, Biogeography, and Evolution in Darwin's Islands Matthew. J. James, editor. A collection of very technical papers, but the first to substantively treat this subject. Plenum Press.

A Field Guide to the Fishes of Galapagos Godfrey Merlen. For some time, this was the only fish guide available. It is not as thorough as Humann, and the paintings are sometimes difficult to match up with living specimens.


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Flowering Plants of the Galapagos Conley K. McMullen. Published at the end of 1999, this guide book is exactly what I was hoping for in the Wiggins & Porter entry below. All of the illustrations are photographs rather than line illustrations,making the identifications much easier, and the text is easily accessable to those with no background in botany. Size-wise it also fits nicely between Schofield and Wiggins & Porter, and is easily portable in the field. Cornell University Press.sPublished orter entry ny.

Plants of the Galapagos: Field Guide and Travel Journal Eileen K. Schofield. The plants are just as interesting as the animals. This book is very thin and portable, but oh so incomplete. And now it's out of print. Universe Books.

Flora of the Galapagos Islands Ira L. Wiggins and Duncan M. Porter. The Galapagos plant bible. It is huge, and intimidating if you are a non-botanist (like me). However, it is the best and most comprehensive plant guide available. I hope that someday somebody will write a guide that falls somewhere between Wiggins & Porter and Schofield. Stanford University Press.


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Coffee Table Books

Galapagos Nathan Farb. With commentary by M.H. Jackson. Rizzoli Books

Darwin's Forgottten World Text by evolutionary biologist Roger Lewin and photographs by Sally Ann Thompson. Gallery Books.

Galapagos: Islands Lost in Time Tui de Roy Moore. Moore is a Galapagos native and world-famous photographer. Penguin Books.

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire Tui de Roy Moore. Moore is a Galapagos native and world-famous photographer. Warwick Publishing, Inc.

Galapagos: The Flow of Wildness 2 vols. Elliot Porter. A Sierra Club book with beautiful photographs and excerpts by famous Galapagos visitors. Sierra Club/Ballantine Books..

Galapagos Barbara Radcliffe Rogers. This over-size book has some beautiful photos. It has recently been remaindered and can sometimes be had for next to nothing. Mallard Press.

Galapagos: The Lost Paradise Peter Salwen. This book has a pretty poor text but the photographs are absolutely magnificent. I have two copies of this book - one at home and one in my office. Since I only take slides on my trips (I have easily over 2,000!) it usually takes some amount of time and planning if I want to look at them or show them to someone. Thus it is this book that I usually turn to whenever I need to take a "mental voyage" back to the Galapagos. By comparison to other books of its type, it's cheap too! Mallard Press


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Islands and Island Biogeography

Island Life: A Natural History of Islands of the World Sherwin Carlquist. A classic book on island biogeography with lots of examples. It was written at a very interesting period of time - just before the acceptance of continental drift and its consequences, and just before the publication of of MacArthur and Wilson, below. Natural History Press

Evolution on Islands. Peter R. Grant (ed.). Essays based on papers on aspects of island evolution presented at a Royal Society of London conference. Includes several papers on the Galapagos. Oxford University Press.

The Theory of Island Biogeography Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson. Very technical and not for the faint-hearted and math-impaired, but worth a look. This book was the first comprehensive theoretical explication of spread, distribution, and extinction of island life. Not only did it influence how biologists think about islands, but it also set the tone for debates over conservation, especially with respect to ecological reserver, over the next few decades. Princeton University Press.

Islands H.W. Menard. A short but rich, densely packed, book about the formation, growth, and subsidence of islands. Scientific American Library

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions David Quammen. Quammen is a science writer and this book is written for the layman. It is an excellent introduction to island biogeography, as begun by MacArthur and Wilson, and the controversy over ecological reserves. It is very readable, if a bit over-long. I especially liked the prominent role that Alfred Russel Wallace is given, but I could do without the Darwin bashing.

Anolis Lizards of the Caribbean: Ecology, Evolution, and Plate Tectonics Jonathan Roughgarden The islands of the Caribbean have been subject to many of the same types of evolutionary and geologic influences as the Galapagos. Looking at other archipelagos is the only way to put the Galapagos into a broad evolutionary and planetary perspective. This book is very short, but very technical. Oxford University Press.

Hawaiian Biogeography: Evolution on a Hot Spot Archipelago Warren L. Wagner and V. A. Funk, eds. Hawaii is the archipelago most often compared to Galapagos, in terms of both volcanism and evolution. Therefore, it is an important companion piece to Galapagos. More technical than most of the other books on this list, it is accessible to the lay reader with a bit of effort. Smithsonian Institution Press.

Island Life Alfred Russel Wallace. The classic in the field. 'Nuff said. Available in an inexpensive paperback reprint by Prometheus Books.

Island Biogeography: Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. Robert J. Whittaker. Good, modern textbook on the subject. Oxford University Press.

Islands: Portraits of Miniature Worlds Louise B. Young. The authors visits to and interpretaion of many islands, including Galapagos. W.H. Freeman


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Volcanoes and Geology

Volcanology, 2nd ed. Jacques-Marie Bardintzeff s and Alexander. R. McBirney. Jones and Bartlett.

Building Planet Earth: Five Billion Years of Earth History Petter Catermole. A good introduction to earth history, including plate tectonics. Cambridge University Press

Volcano George Daniels. Part of the Time-Life Planet Earth series, this book is very introductory, but beautifully illustrated, as you would expect. Time Life Books.

Volcanoes Robert Decker and Barbara Decker. A good introduction to volcanoes for the general reader. W.H. Freeman & Co.

Volcanoes: Cruicibles of Change Richard V. Fisher, Grant Heiken, and Jeffrey B. Hulen. A good introduction to volcanoes for the general reader.

Volcanoes: A Planetary Perspective Peter Francis. An outstanding textbook about all aspects of volcanoes. If you are serious about wanting to really understand volcanoes, this is the book to read. Oxford University Press.

Global Tectonics, 2nd ed. Philip Kearey and Frederick J. Vine. An excellent, comprehensive textbook on plate tectonics. Recommended. Blackwell Science.

Geology and Petrology of the Galapagos Islands A.R. McBirney and Howel Williams. The classic (and pretty much only) book on Galapagos geology. The Geological Society of America.

Earth Story: The Shaping of Our World Simon Lamb and David Sington. A good introduction to earth history, including plate tectonics. Princeton University Press.

Foundations of Earth Science Frederick K. Lutgens & Edward J. Tarbuck. A good, freshma-level introduction to geology. Prentice Hall.

Volcanoes Alwyn Scarth. A good introduction to volcanoes for the general reader. Texas A & M University Press.

Encyclopedia of Volcanoes Haraldur Sigurdsson, ed. in chief. A huge (and expensive) compendium of all aspects of volcanology. Newly published, it is probably the most comprehensive, up-to-date source. Academic Press.

Volcanology Howel Williams and A. R. McBirney. Now somewhat dated, this is a classic book on volcanoes, especially noteworthy here because the authors wrote the book on Galapagos geology. Freeman, Cooper & Co.


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Ecuador and Galapagos Tony Perrottet. Insight Guides, Houghton Mifflin.

The New Key to Ecuador and the Galapagos David L. Pearson and David W. Middleton. Ulysses Press.

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands: A Travel Survival Kit Rob Rachowiecki. Lonely Planet Press.


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Life on the Rocks: The Galapagos Annie Dillard. One of a collection of natural history essays by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. In "¨Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters" by Dillard. Harper Perennial.

Isle of the Black Cats (Galapagos) Gustavo Vasconez Hurtado. A fictionalized account of the Ritter/Witmer/Baroness conflict on Floreana. According to Hurtado, they were all spies. Readily available in Quito. Libri Mundi.

The Evolution of Jane Catherine Schine. A novel about a young woman, Jane, who travels to Galapagos to get away from things following the end of a very short-lived marriage. The big tragedy in Jane's life, however, is her abandonment by her cousin and child-hood best friend. Jane is tormented by her cousin's desertion and constantly wonders what she did to drive her cousin away. Imagine her surprise when she arrives at Galapagos and finds that her cousin, who is now a botanist, is the tour guide! The book is a clever and enjoyable interweaving of the evolution of life and the evolution of a friendship set in the evolutionary cauldron of the Galapagos. Houghton Mifflin

The Encantadas Herman Melville. Melville visited the Galapagos some years after Darwin and recorded his impressions in a series of sketches.

Galapagos Kurt Vonnegut. The million-year long story, narrated by a ghost, of a very eccentric group of humans stranded in the Galapagos. Set against the evolutionary background of the Galapagos, Vonnegut explores the human condition and our love affair with our big brains. Virtually everything that Vonnegut says about Galapagos is wrong, but nonetheless, this is one of my all-time favorite books.

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Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise? Martha Honey. Three chapters outlining the basics of ecotourism followed by seven nation studies. The first of these studies is an excellent chapter on the current status and challenges of ecotourism in Galapagos. Island Press.

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    for more info, contact Dr. Robert Rothman: rhrsbi@rit.edu