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BIO 10 — Darwin, Evolution, and Galápagos: Big Lessons from Little Islands

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Apr 4—May 23
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 17
Unit: 1
Tuition: $355
Instructor(s): William Durham
On-campus course
7:00—8:50 pm
Apr 4—May 23
8 weeks
Drop By
Apr 17
1 Unit
William Durham
The tiny, remote islands of Galápagos in the Pacific Ocean have played a central role in the study of evolution. Not surprisingly, they have also been important to the development and understanding of conservation. Drawing on lessons learned in Galápagos from Darwin’s time to the present, this course explores evolution, conservation, and their connection among the organisms of Galápagos. A key theme is that the fascinating adaptations of organisms to the isolated ecosystems of the archipelago have left those organisms particularly vulnerable to perturbations and introductions from the outside world.

Using case studies on albatrosses, finches, iguanas, tortoises, cacti, giant daisies, and more, we will explore current theory and debate about adaptation, sexual selection, speciation, adaptive radiation, and other topics in evolution. Similarly, we will explore the special challenges Galápagos poses today for conservation, owing to both its unusual flora and fauna and the increasing human impact on the archipelago. Part of the course will be historical, focused on the history of scientific research in Galápagos beginning with Darwin. We will start the course by asking what Darwin found so very convincing in Galápagos. We will also consider the “evolution of evolution,” looking at how our understanding of evolution has changed since Darwin’s day, and the role of Galápagos in those changes. And finally, we will ponder the lessons we learn from contemporary research on evolution and conservation in the archipelago, and why they matter.

This course may not be taken for a Letter Grade.

William Durham, Bing Professor in Human Biology, Emeritus; Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education; Senior Fellow, by courtesy, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Bill Durham has taught in human biology and anthropology at Stanford since 1977. Today, his research interests are environmental anthropology, the “coevolution” of genetic and cultural change in human populations, and the challenges of sustainable development in the tropics. He is the author of Coevolution: Genes, Culture, and Human Diversity and co-editor of The Social Causes of Environmental Destruction in Latin America; Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboo; and Ecotourism and Conservation in the Americas. A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, he has also received five awards for teaching and faculty leadership at Stanford. He has led more than twenty-five Stanford Alumni Association trips to Galápagos, the Amazon, East Africa, and elsewhere.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Tui de Roy, Galapagos: Preserving Darwin's Legacy, 2nd edition (2016) (ISBN 1472928598)