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The Human Footprint now on the Galapagos Islands

What has happened to the Galápagos Islands?

They have been invaded by humans! The islands were first “discovered” in 1535 but for a long time they were ignored until the government of Ecuador, the country to which the islands are closest, began settling them in the 1800s. Subsequent to that decision, over the course of 200+ years, with the advent of humans and their accompanying pets, other animals, and plants, drastic happenings occurred: the delicate ecological balance was shattered. Habitats were ruined and food supplies for native species diminished. From occasional ecologists, other scientists, historians, and prisoners of the penal colony to multitudes of tourists, the once unknown place has now become a destination vacation.

On Wednesday, March 2, Dr. Warren Allmon will speak on "The Human Footprint now on the Galápagos Islands." The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Sandra and Alan Gerry Forum of the Rowley Center for Science and Engineering (RCSE), Room 010 at SUNY Orange.

The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago located about 621 miles (1,000 km) from the continent of South America in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean. The archipelago is composed of 19 volcanic islands-- the main islands, and 120 small islands according to UNESCO.

When Charles Darwin made his famous visit to the Galápagos Islands while on the voyage of the HMS Beagle, he found endemic (native only to the islands) wildlife. Because the islands were seemingly untouched for thousands of years, animals changed to fit their environment and adapt to any existing “vacancy” in that particular ecological zone. Darwin’s visit to the islands inspired his theory of natural selection and drove his writing of On the Origin of Species which was published in 1859.

“One of the most remote and unspoiled spots on Earth nevertheless is home to more than 30,000 permanent residents, and is visited by more than 200,000 tourists each year. What does the future hold for ‘Darwin’s lost world’?” asks Allmon.

Allmon has been a visiting lecturer who has spoken at SUNY Orange on a variety of subjects during the last decade. He is a very engaging speaker, and welcomes discussion. Allmon is the Director of the Paleontological Research Institution and the Museum of the Earth. In addition, he is the Hunter R. Rawlings, III Professor of Paleontology of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. He holds an A.B. in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University.

The event is free and open to the public.

Questions may be directed to (845) 341-4891 or You may also visit the Cultural Affairs website at

Event date, time and location.

Dorothy Szefc
Cultural Affairs