Naturalist: Galapagos Finches

Describe role: Darwin has observed several species of finches on the various islands of Galapagos that are very different in morphology and behavior from those finches he observed on the continent of South America. He has asked you to collect as much information about each of these unusual finches as you can and organize this information in the form of a report your team will make to the Research Seminar. He would also like you to propose a reason why these birds are so different from their relatives on the mainland. On this page you can see some drawings made by the ship's artist of these finches.

Background Information:

Follow the URL's that are provided to gather information about these birds. You should read the information contained at each site with your task in mind:

Marine Iguanas and Darwin's finches .(Click on "Finches" and view photos of birds. Click on photo to enlarge.)

Information on Darwin's finches, tortoise, land lizzards, insects, plant life. (Explore this Terra Quest site carefully. Check out the history link, Darwin's visit, and then evolution. You will find a great family tree for the finches with more detail included. Also explore the links to Wildlife with its various zones, the Checklist for species, and the Atlas for good maps.)

PBS site that has great animal photos and descriptions. Explore the general material at link On the Island, review vocabulary. Procede to the history, geology and wildlife links.

Using a dichotomous key to identify finches. Explains how to use taxonomy.

You may also refer back to the sites listed on the Process page for information from Darwin's Journal:

Voyage of the Beagle, Chapt. 17

Darwin's books The Origin of the Species and Voyage of the Beagle


Report: You are to present your report in the form of a research paper to the Research Group (which will be the rest of the class). You are encouraged to use visuals...overhead transparency, photographs, or photos from the web to present your informataion. Each member of your team should have part in the presentation. You should be well organized so that you can present your report withing 10-15 minutes. It is preferred that you not read the report but rather explain what you learned in your own words using an outline. Images from the Internet may be projected on our TV in our room if you have the URL.

You should include in the report: (A chart might be convenient.)

1. The common name as well as scientific name of the finches.

2. A description of habitat, food sources, where located.

3. A list for each species of what is unusual about that finch.

4. Show how a dichotomous key can be used to identify the various finches on the island according to the morphology of their beaks.

5. A photograph or picture of the species. (This can be projected on our TV via a Web link.)

6. A proposal(s) for why the birds are so different from their mainland relatives.

7. A proposal for why the birds differ among themselves.