Izzy’s word of the day: Niche
Niche: How an organism fits into its environment.
The Galapagos Islands are isolated. This puts interesting pressures on the animals that live here. Millions of years ago, the ancestral population of finches felt the pressures of limited space and resources the islands could offer. Because of these pressures, the beak’s of the ancestor finches adapted to match what food was available in the area. Eventually, they evolved into many different species, each filling a different niche in this remote environment.
The different species of finches eat a variety of foods like seeds, cactus, insects and flower buds. They are endemic to the Galapagos, meaning they can only be found in this area of the world. Some, however, are found on all islands of the Galapagos, while others on only one.The 13 species of finches on the islands are referred to as Darwin’s finches. However, they evolved long before Darwin observed them. And they continue to evolve long after.
For an interesting read on the evolution of the Galapagos finches check out: 40 Years of Evolution: Darwin’s Finches on Daphne Major Island
By Peter R. Grant & B. Rosemary Grant