Galapagos: A Living Laboratory

October 19, 2012

Since their introduction to Galapagos by whalers in the 18th century, goats have ravaged island ecosystems by destroying native vegetation and threatening the survival and reproduction of endemic species. Following several successful eradication programs, funded in part by members of Galapagos Conservancy, many of the affected islands are now thriving. However, the steady growth of another invasive—residents and visitors—provide a new set of complex conservation challenges.

Sandy Hausman of WVTF public radio in Roanoke, VA recently discussed the conservation challenges associated with tourism as well as the destructive history of introduced species on the delicate ecosystems of Galapagos. GC’s President, Johannah Barry, spoke with Sandy about the goat eradication efforts and the importance of protecting this unique archipelago.

Listen to the WVTF Living Laboratory program

Also interviewed on the program were a Washington & Lee University professor emeritus, Dr. Cleve Hickman, and W&L alumnus, Scott Henderson. Cleve taught at Washington and Lee from 1967 to 1994 and has been researching the Galapagos since 1985, focusing on the systematics and distribution of the marine invertebrate fauna. As part of a W&L class, Cleve travelled to Galapagos with nearly 150 students. Since his retirement, he has authored four seminal field guides on sea stars, molluscs, crustaceans, and corals for the Galapagos Marine Life Series. GC’s Cleve Hickman Endowment for Marine Research is named in his honor and funded largely by his former students. Scott Henderson, W&L Class of 1987, participated in one of Cleve’s trips to Galapagos and is now the regional marine conservation director of Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape as part of Conservation International‘s South American Division. He has served as a consultant, researcher, and NGO staff in Latin America and parts of Africa. Both Cleve and Scott are long-time supporters of Galapagos Conservancy and have lent their expertise to GC staff and partners to ensure the continued protection of the Galapagos Islands.

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