One hundred and sixty five years after Darwin's visit, the Galápagos Islands remain an ecological and evolutionary treasure. The combination of the isolated island formation and the confluence of warm and cold ocean currents, has resulted in the highly endemic and complex ecology of the archipelago. In fact, the Galápagos Islands are home to one of the highest concentrations of endemic species in the world. Over 95% of the reptiles, 50% of the birds, and 35% of the terrestrial plants are native only to the Galápagos Islands. In general, marine ecosystems tend to have few endemic species due to their lack of isolation from neighboring ecosystems. However, 30% of all marine species found in the Galápagos are endemic. The unique and relatively unaltered ecosystems of the Galápagos are valued as a global scientific resource for the study of ecological, geological, and evolutionary processes.



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