A Paradise for Reptiles
Title Details

200 Pages

27.9 x 22.8 cm

145 colour, 17 b/w

Imprint: RIT Press

A Paradise for Reptiles

Lizards, Snakes, and Giant Tortoises of the Galápagos Islands, Volume 1: Tortoises, Geckos, and Snakes

by Robert H. Rothman

  • Description
  • Contents
Reptiles are intrinsic to the mystique of the Galápagos Islands, and A Paradise for Reptiles: Lizards, Snakes, and Giant Tortoises of the Galápagos Islands tells the story of these iconic animals and details the early encounters with each species, including the route by which they were recognized and named. Robert H. Rothman draws from a wide range of scientific literature to present an accessible, comprehensive account of the research on the natural history, behavioral ecology, physiology, genetics, and conservation of each major group. It is richly supplemented with thirty years of photographs taken by the author during annual trips to the Galápagos.
Volume 1: Tortoises, Geckos, and Snakes covers the legendary giant tortoises and the lesser-known geckos and snakes. It also presents an overview of the complex geological history of the Galápagos, which is essential to understanding the course of colonization and the evolution of reptiles in the archipelago.
Robert H. Rothman, PhD, is Professor Emeritus, Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He initiated, taught, and led thirty-two annual trips to the Galápagos Islands for science and nonscience RIT students.
Table of Contents for A Paradise for Reptiles

Forewordix
Prefacexi

1. THE MOST STRIKING FEATURE OF THESE ISLANDS1
1.1 Reptiles and the Discovery of the Galápagos Islands1
1.2 Early Encounters with Tortoises3
1.3 "Turpining"5
1.4 Endangered Reptiles7
1.5 Famous Tortoises7
1.6 Reptiles and the Origin of the Galápagos Islands8
1.7 A Paradise for Reptiles10
2. A CONGENIAL HABITATION13
2.1 Reptiles and the Origin of the Galápagos Islands13
2.2 Plate Tectonics and the Formation of the Galápagos Islands16
2.3 The Age of the Galápagos Islands19
2.4 Galápagos Land Revisited21
3. GIANT TORTOISES: CHELONOIDIS27
3.1 The Last of His Kind27
3.2 A Tortoise by Any Other Name28
3.3 A Multiplicity of Species35
3.3.1 Questions of Provenance37
3.3.2 The California Academy of Sciences Expedition and Problematic Species42
3.4 Species or Subspecies?47
3.5 Domes and Saddles48
3.6 Natural History54
3.6.1 Daily Routine54
3.6.2 Diet59
3.6.3 Seed Dispersal and Climate Change62
3.6.4 Predators and Parasites63
3.7 Reproduction66
3.7.1 Mating66
3.7.2 Hormonal Cycles68
3.7.3 Nesting71
3.7.4 Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination72
3.7.5 Growth Rates, Age to Sexual Maturity, and Life Span73
3.7.6 Reproductive Biology and Mutation Rate76
3.8 Evolution and Colonization77
3.8.1 Mainland Origins77
3.8.2 Genetic Analysis79
3.8.2.1 Early Attempts at Genetic Analysis79
3.8.2.2 Modern Genetic Analysis81
3.8.2.3 Tortoises of Santa Cruz83
3.8.2.4 Tortoises of Volcán Wolf86
3.8.2.5 Tortoises of Volcán Alcedo87
3.8.2.6 Tortoises of Southern Isabela88
3.8.3 Phylogeny91
3.8.4 Patterns of Colonization95
3.8.5 Giant Tortoises and Evolutionary Hot Spots97
3.9 The Human Factor97
3.9.1 Tortoises as Commodities97
3.9.2 Feral Animals103
3.9.3 Restoration of Tortoise Populations104
3.9.3.1 The Pinzón Head-Starting Program105
3.9.3.2 The Española Captive Breeding Program108
3.9.3.3 Volcán Wolf and the Recovery of Pinta and Floreana Tortoises114
3.9.3.4 Floreana Tortoises116
3.9.4 The Rewilding of the Galápagos118
3.9.5 Continuing Threats120
Tortoise Update125
4. GECKOS: PHYLLODACTYLUS127
4.1 The Endemic Species 127
4.2 Evolutionary Relationships129
4.3 Natural History134
4.4 Introduced Geckos134
5. GALÁPAGOS RACER SNAKES: PSEUDALSOPHIS139
5.1 Recognizing Diversity139
5.2 Evolutionary Relationships146
5.3 Natural History149
6. AFTERWORD153
6.1 Early Encounters153
6.2 Changing Taxonomies153
6.3 Life Histories154
6.4 Evolution154
6.5 Colonization155
6.6 Conservation156
6.7 Concluding Remarks157

References159
Index179

Paperback

9781939125897

February 2024

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Title Details

200 Pages

2.79 x 2.28 cm

145 colour, 17 b/w

Imprint: RIT Press