Introduction to the Finch Problem Space

The Galapagos Islands have been an important natural laboratory for evolution research for over 175 years. The archipelago contains over 40 islands that very in size, habitats and inhabitants. The islands are home to the Galapagos finches (a.k.a. Darwin's finches) which stand as one of the most widely recognized examples of research in evolutionary biology. The 13 species of finches have subtle variations in their beak morphology and behavior that reflect their divergence and ecological specialization.

Too often the Galapagos Finches are presented as a canonical example of evolution without providing students with the opportunity to engage with data or the types of reasoning that biologists use to make sense of their similarities and differences. This problem space provides a collection of introductory materials and data resources designed to support students as they reason about the evolutionary relationships between the species.

The materials provided here are modified from the BIRDD database which is published as part of the BioQUEST Library.

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