, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 706–724 | Cite as

Exploring conservation discourses in the Galapagos Islands: A case study of the Galapagos giant tortoises

  • Francisco Benitez-Capistros
  • Jean Hugé
  • Farid Dahdouh-Guebas
  • Nico Koedam


Conservation discourses change rapidly both at global and local scales. To be able to capture these shifts and the relationships between humans and nature, we focused on a local and iconic conservation case: the Galapagos giant tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.). We used the Q methodology to contextualize conservation for science and decision making and to explore the multidimensionality of the conservation concept in Galapagos. The results indicate four prevailing discourses: (1) Multi-actor governance; (2) giant tortoise and ecosystems conservation; (3) community governance; and (4) market and tourism centred. These findings allow us to identify foreseeable points of disagreement, as well as areas of consensus, and to discuss the implication of the findings to address socio-ecological conservation and sustainability challenges. This can help the different involved stakeholders (managers, scientists and local communities) to the design and apply contextualized conservation actions and policies to contribute to a better sustainable management of the archipelago.


Conservation-development Discourse analysis Galapagos giant tortoises Iconic species Conservation governance Q methodology 



The authors wish to thank all the Galapagos’ interviewees and Q-sorters who participated in this study, and the Charles Darwin Foundation for their logistics’ support. The authors wish to thank also the anonymous reviewers of this article, who have suggested important aspects to improve the quality of this paper. The authors also acknowledge with thanks the research funding provided by the Ecuadorian National Secretary of Higher Education, Science and Technology (SENESCYT). JH acknowledges the support from the Belgian National Research Foundation (FRS-FNRS).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 238 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Biology and Nature Management (APNA), Faculty of Sciences and Bio-engineering SciencesVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Systems Ecology and Resource Management, Department of Organism Biology, Faculty of SciencesUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

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