1. Why did Wallace choose to go to the Malay Archipelago?

Malay Archipelago was a vast group of islands between Southeast Asia and
Australia. Other than on the island of Java, the animals and plants were
unexplored. The area was almost as large as the entire continent of South
America. Many of the islands were volcanic. Covered in tropical forest, the
islands appeared similar, but held different treasures.

2. Compare and contrast the animals on Bali, Borneo, and the western islands of
the archipelago with those on Lombok, New Guinea, and the eastern islands.
What are the differences and why are they important?

All of the families of birds that were common on Sumatra, Java, and Borneo
were absent from Aru, New Guinea, and Australia, and vice versa. The
differences in mammals among the western and eastern islands of Indonesia
were just as striking. On the large western islands there were monkeys,
tigers, and rhinoceros. But on Aru there were no primates or carnivores all
the native mammals were marsupials – a kangaroo, three or four species of
cuscus, and some other small rat-like marsupials.
Comparing Borneo (in the west) and New Guinea (in the east), Wallace
remarked, “It would be difficult to point out two countries more exactly
resembling each other in climate and physical features.” But, in fact, the
regions’’ birds and mammals were entirely different. Comparing New Guinea
and Australia, he said “We can scarcely find a stronger contrast than in their
physical conditions… one enjoying perpetual moisture, the other with
alternatives of drought.”

3. What observations led Wallace to the idea of a “struggle for existence”? How
were Wallace’s observations similar or different from those driving Darwin’s
ideas about natural selection?

The full exertion of all their faculties and all their energies is required to
preserve their own existence and provide for that of their infant offspring.
Wallace knew from a decade in the jungle that finding food and escaping
danger rules animals’ lives – and the weakest were weeded out. These ideas
were similar to Darwin’s.