Archipiélago de Colón - (Galápagos)

The Archipiélago de Colón – Galápagos Biosphere Reserve is situated in the east Pacific Ocean, 1,000 km from the mainland of Ecuador, with the equator running through the Wolf and Ecuador volcanoes on Isabella Island.


© Parque Nacional de Galapagos
Voonteers clean up the beach and mangrove in Archipielago de Colon Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador

Designation date: 1984
Administrative authorities: Parque Nacional Galápagos

Surface area: 14,761,844 ha
Core area(s): 64,040 ha
Buffer area(s): 696,804 ha
Transition area(s): 14,000,000 ha

North: Darwin Island: 01°39'N; 92°00'W
South: Floreana Island: 01°17'S; 90°26'W
East: San Cristóbal Island: 00°48'S; 89°25'W
West: Fernandina Island: 00°22'S; 91°31'W

Situated on the Galapagos Submarine Platform, the Galapagos Islands consist of 13 islands formed 4 million years ago by volcanic processes and most represent the summit of a volcano, some of which rise over 3,000 meters from the Pacific Ocean floor. The larger islands typically comprise one or more gently sloping shield volcanoes, culminating in craters or calderas and the terrain are generally composed of uplifted marine lava flows.

The endemic fauna includes invertebrate, reptile and bird species. There are a few indigenous mammals. All the reptiles are endemic, except two marine tortoises, and include giant tortoise (Geochelone elephantopus) , terrestrial iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus and C. pallidus), and marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus). More than 250 species are non-native introductions occurring predominantly around human settlements.

The 1999 resident population numbered some 15,600 persons. Freshwater is a critically limiting factor, and only San Cristobal has adequate perennial supplies for the local human population.

It is also inscribed on the World Heritage list. The Government of Ecuador, IUCN and UNESCO's World Heritage Centre support the Charles Darwin Research Station jointly and work in programmes, which assist in the management of the biosphere reserve.


Ecological Characteristics

Major ecosystem type:
Tropical humid forests / Marine archipelago

Major habitats & land cover types:
Littoral zone; arid habitats; Scalesia forest composed of S. pedunculata, S. microcephala and S. cordata; Miconia communities with M. robinsoniana; Matazarno forest with Piscidia carthagenensis; fern- and sedge communities; marine habitats; agroecosystems with coffee, tomato, pepper, fruit etc.; pasture land.

Socio-Economic Characteristics

Tourism, cattle grazing and fishing are key components of the islands' economy.

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Last updated in February 2011

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