Galapagos: A Natural History Guide


284 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919813-10-0




Reviewed by Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer is a Toronto-based free-lance writer.


Ex-Briton Michael Hume Jackson used to be a naturalist guide on the Galapagos Islands. In 1982 he served as zoologist on the Cambridge Darwin Centenary Expedition. Now he’s with the University of Calgary. Galapagos has four sections: historical, environmental, and scientific background to the natural history of the islands; a discussion of the plants and animals found there; the management and conservation of Galapagos National Park; visitor information and notes about the various visitor sites. There are 16 pages of color plates. An excellent bibliography, a glossary, a general index, a species-name index, and checklists of Galapagos flora and fauna round out this comprehensive guide. Although famous creatures, including the giant tortoises and Darwin’s finches, are covered in depth, equal care is lavished on lesser-known denizens of this living evolutionary laboratory. We discover the courtship displays of the waved albatross, meet the various moths and butterflies, and learn to identify the plants native to the islands. The story of Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle is so readily available elsewhere that Jackson devotes little space to it, preferring to concentrate on less well-known material. Jackson’s prose is clean and his black-and-white photos, which dot the text, are crisp.

Galapagos would be of most use to those planning to visit the islands, to professional researchers, and to senior students.


Jackson, M. H., “Galapagos: A Natural History Guide,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 3, 2023,