Galapagos Giant Tortoises

Galapagos Giant Tortoises

1st Edition - November 7, 2020

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  • Editors: James Gibbs, Linda Cayot, Washington Tapia Aguilera
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128175545
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128175552

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Galapagos Giant Tortoises brings together researchers and conservationists to share the most up-to-date knowledge of Galapagos giant tortoises. Despite being icons of the world-famous Galapagos Archipelago and the target of more than 50 years of conservation research and management, Galapagos giant tortoise evolution and much of their ecology remained unknown until recently. This book documents the history, the pressing conservation issues, and success stories recovering several of the 15 different species of Galapagos tortoises from near extinction.The book begins with an overview of the history of the relationship between humans and Galapagos giant tortoises, starting from initial heavy exploitation of tortoises by pirates and whalers, and extending to the start of the modern conservation era in the 1960s. The book then shifts to biology, describing Galapagos tortoise evolution, taxonomy, ecology, habitats, reproduction, and behavior. Next the decades of conservation efforts and their results are reviewed, including issues of captive breeding, invasive species, introduced diseases, and de-extinction, as well as the current status and distribution of every species. The final portion of the book turns to four case studies of restoration, and then looks ahead to the future of all tortoise populations.The latest volume in the Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscape series, Galapagos Giant Tortoises is a valuable resource for researchers and conservationists, as well as students of biology, wildlife conservation, and herpetology.

Key Features

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of the Galapagos giant tortoise species as written and edited by the world’s leading experts
  • Presents examples of restoration of tortoise populations following the near extinction of many of them
  • Describes conservation strategies to ensure the full recovery of all extant species
  • Explores recent efforts using replacement tortoises for extinct species to restore island ecosystems


Conservationists, researchers, and students in wildlife conservation, conservation biology, herpetology, captive breeding, habitat management, and invasive species control worldwide; visitors to the Galapagos Islands

Table of Contents

  • Section I: Overview
    1. The Galapagos: Island Home of Giant Tortoises
    2. Galapagos tortoises: Protagonists in the spectacle of life on Earth

    Section II: History of Human - Tortoise Interactions
    3. Human perceptions of Galapagos tortoises through history
    4. The era of exploitation: 1700-1959
    5. Darwin and the Galapagos giant tortoises
    6. The Collectors: Beginnings of scientific inquiry and the lasting impacts of living and museum collections

    Section III: Natural History
    7. Evolution and phylogenetics
    8. Morphology
    9. Reproduction
    10. Thermoregulation
    11. Behavior and Diet
    12. Population biology
    13. Movement ecology
    14. Habitats
    15. Role in Ecosystems
    16. Galapagos Tortoises in a Changing Climate

    Section IV: Conservation: Slow Rescue from Near Destruction
    17. History of Galapagos tortoise conservation
    18. Tortoise health
    19. Invasive Species: Impacts, Control, and Eradication
    20. Tortoise Populations after 60 Years of Conservation

    Section V: Restoration Case Studies
    21. Española Island: From Near Extinction to Recovery
    22. Pinzón Island: A Century of Zero Tortoise Hatchlings to a Growing Population
    23. Floreana and Pinta Islands: Restoring Tortoise Populations through Lost Lineage Recovery
    24. Santa Fe Island: Return of tortoises via a replacement species

    Section VI: Into the Future
    25. Beyond rescue to full recovery

Product details

  • No. of pages: 536
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2020
  • Published: November 7, 2020
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128175545
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128175552

About the Serial Volume Editors

James Gibbs

Dr. James P. Gibbs is Distinguished Professor of Conservation Biology in the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, New York, US and Conservation Scientist for the Galapagos Conservancy. He received his Ph.D. in forestry and environmental studies from Yale University, Connecticut, US. He has worked on biodiversity conservation issues in the Galapagos over four decades.

Affiliations and Expertise

College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, New York, USA and Galapagos Conservancy, Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Linda Cayot

Dr. Linda J. Cayot has worked for Galapagos conservation for 40 years. She received her PhD on Galapagos giant tortoises from Syracuse University, New York, US. Dr. Cayot served as herpetologist at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) from 1988 to 1998. In 1997-98, she initiated Project Isabela, aimed at eradicating feral goats on northern Isabela Island. She worked for Galapagos Conservancy in the US from 2006 to 2019, where she played a lead role in the development of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative.

Affiliations and Expertise

Galapagos Conservancy, Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Washington Tapia Aguilera

Washington Tapia A. is the director of the of the Galapagos Conservancy’s Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative. He received his master's degree in conservation of tropical biodiversity from San Pablo University CEU, Sevilla, Spain and is pursuing his Ph.D. in biodiversity and environmental studies at the University of Málaga, Málaga, Spain. He has led conferences and headed numerous research publications focusing on the conservation and environmental factors on Galapagos animals including giant tortoises and land iguanas.

Affiliations and Expertise

Galapagos Conservancy, Fairfax, Virginia, USA

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