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Giant Tortoises on the Move: Insights from Their Migration

No creature is more emblematic of the Galapagos Islands than the giant tortoise. Yet there is much about these ancient animals we have yet to learn. Just a decade ago, we didn’t even know they were migrants, although Charles Darwin noted lengthy tortoise trails in his observation notes during his visit to the Galapagos in 1835. Scientists have only recently discovered that these hefty reptiles (males can weigh 600 pounds) pull themselves up and down the sides of extinct volcanoes every year. But how? And more importantly, why? Those are the questions that animate researchers like our webinar guest, Anne Guezou. Ainoa is a veterinarian and researcher with the Galapagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Program, based at the Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz. She talks with Galapagos Expedition Leader Josy Cardoso about what she and her colleagues are learning about tortoise ecology as a result of studying their movements. The program grew out of an inaugural 2009 study that fitted giant tortoises with GPS tracking tags, recognizing the potential significance of migration patterns in a giant terrestrial reptile for both conservation and science.


Originally presented March 3, 2021
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