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OVERVIEW
AND
PURPOSE

        Biodiversity in all its forms can not be fully appreciated unless it is experienced firsthand at its extremes. The purpose of this program is to give the student firsthand experience of the biodiversity found in tropical rain forests and tropical oceanic islands. The course will also focus on the evolutionary mechanisms that lead to this biodiversity. Special emphasis will be placed on how the Galapagos Island influenced Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the impact his theory has had on modern biological thinking. As an indirect benefit the student will also experience the culture of the people of Ecuador.

        Two Ecuadorian locations will be visited. The Jatun Sacha Biological Station, administered by the Jatun Sacha Foundation. It is located along the Napo River in the upper Amazon Basin. It is presently 3,000 acres in size, 70% of which is primary rainforest. The Biological Station promotes rainforest conservation, research, and education. The Galapagos Islands are a nature lover’s paradise. They are located 600 miles from the coast of Ecuador and are made up of 13 main islands, 17 islets and 47 reefs. The Islands were made famous due to a visit in 1835 by Charles Darwin, who later published his findings in two of his works: "The Voyage of the Beagle" and "The Origin of Species." Much of the Island’s flora and fauna exist no place else on earth. They are protected by a National Park with 42 visitor sites.

 

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Updated February 2, 1999