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Laruelle, J. (1967). Galápagos. Natuurwet. Tijdschr. 47(1-8): 3-236, 1 map + 30 plates
In: Natuurwetenschappelijk Tijdschrift. L. Walschot/Natuur- en Geneeskundige Vennootschap: Gent. ISSN 0770-1748, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Biotic factors; Expeditions; Geography; Nature conservation; ISE, Ecuador, Galapagos I. [Marine Regions]

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  • Laruelle, J.

    The year 1959 saw the establishment in Brussels of an international UNESCO-sponsored association, the "Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galápagos Islands". President of the association was the late Prof. Dr. V. Van Straelen. The object, organization, and activities of the Foundation-sponsored Charles Darwin Research Station (C.D.R.S.) call for a better knowledge of the problems of nature conservation proper to the Galápagos Archipelago. There are reviewed both the historical (Bishop Fray Tomás de Berlanga 1535) and scientific discovery (Charles Darwin on board H.M.S. Beagle 1835) of the archipelago, all main scientific missions after Darwin's route and before the establishment of the Darwin Foundation, the diverse aspects of human pressure on unique natural biota. Since the XVIIth century important elements of the Galápagos fauna and flora have been threatened either by direct destruction or by introduction of domestic species, both actions resulting in a catastrophic or critical rupture of equilibrium for the (mostly) endemic species concerned. In the thirties the extinction of two gigantic land-tortoise species on two distinct islands (Santa Fé, Floreana) and their precarious state of survival on other islands (San Cristóbal, Española, Pinta, Santiago) were evidenced. In the same period the furseal colonies had obviously fallen below a vital minimum. On the six endemic rat species four were on the way to being irreversibly supplanted by the introduced house-rat. These and more expressions of a dramatic situation led to the promulgation of a number of protection laws (Quito 1934). Since these remained inoperative, one had to wait till the common information mission of UNESCO and I.U.C.N. (1957) resulted in a definite schedule, adapted to local and pragmatic circumstances. It is the main task of the Darwin Foundation, in close collaboration with the Ecuadorian Government, to make a full programme of nature conservation and scientific research widely operative with the C.D.R.S. as main base. Our present knowledge of climate, rocks, volcanism, tectonics, flora, soils and fauna (Vertebrata) of the Galápagos Islands is treated in fair detail. The important part played by the activities of the Darwin Foundation can already be stated clearly.

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