Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle is a very readable, insightful travelogue that provides a detailed description of the habitats, organisms, and people he encountered on the five-year journey. In this exercise, students read passages corresponding to one of Darwin's principal inland expeditions in South America and write short response papers about the passage, which they then discuss in class. Through this exercise, students gain an appreciation for the diversity of terrestrial habitats and organisms in South America as well as for the young Darwin's interpretations of his experience. His insights include the negative impact of invasive and introduced species on native organisms and the anthropogenic effects on species’ distributions. Thus students will also recognize the foundations of many important principles of modern ecology and conservation biology in this historic narrative.

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