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PROGRAM FIELD SITES

Tropical Ecology I:
Terrestrial Ecosystems

Tropical Ecology II:
Marine Ecosystems

Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve
El Pahuma Orchid Reserve
Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve
Tiputini Biodiversity Station

Muisne River Mangroves
Galapagos Islands World Heritage Site
GAIAS Institute on San Cristobal

See Sites Map

Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve

This vast protected area (403,103 ha) spans an impressive elevational range from the lowlands of the Amazon to the lofty peak of Cayambe volcano at 5790 m.  The reserve thus contains many types of ecosystems.  We visit the stunning moist páramo ecosystem dotted with lakes and perpetually saturated bogs dominated by cushion plants.  We examine the fascinating adaptations of these plants to nightly freezing temperatures.  The reserve is part of the Condor Bioreserve which contains the world's largest population of this endangered bird. 

El Pahuma Orchid Reserve

This 450 hectare private reserve is protected by South America's second-ever conservation easement, signed between the landowner and the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation.  Here, we explore lush montane and cloud forests, replete with showy orchids and an amazing diversity of birds like the endemic Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan.  The endangered Spectacled-Bear also calls this forest home.  During our study of montane forests, we camp at the remote "Bear's Den" cabin in the upper reaches of the reserve. (more)

Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve

Ceiba's second private reserve project, this reserve owned by a dairy farmer protects seasonally dry tropical forest on Ecuador's Pacific coast.  With only 2% of Ecuador's dry forest remaining, reserves like these represent important habitat to this ecosystem's uniquely adapted flora and fauna.  Many trees here are deciduous, losing their leaves in the dry season, and the forest is intermingled with cacti.  Reptiles are a particularly important component of the dry forest fauna. (more)

Tiputini Biodiversity Station

Located deep within the Amazon rainforest, this 650 ha research station shares its boundary with Ecuador's largest protected area, Yasuní National Park.  With 13 species of primates, 5 species of cats, more than 540 species of birds and a record 650 species of tree in just one hectare, this is one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth!  Sightings of fantastic wildlife are guaranteed during our 21-day immersion in the rainforest at TBS. (more)

Muisne River Mangroves

One of Ecuador's last remaining extensive mangrove forests can be found in the Muisne River estuary, on the northern coast.  The estuary is a spectacular network of canals and mangrove islands, where a variety of wildlife including many oceanic birds, can easily be seen. Local fishing communities, commercial shrimpers and conservationists rub shoulders in the region, where ongoing projects strive to improve management of natural resources by promoting alternative agriculture, mariculture and mangrove restoration, along with protection of the existing mangrove forest and abundant seabird nesting sites. (more)

Galapagos Islands World Heritage Site

Famous for its role in inspiring Darwin's theory of evolution, this archipelago of 19 major islands is a virtual showcase of diversity and speciation, that we will visit on an 8-day tour by yacht.  The volcanically-created islands are located 1000 km west of mainland Ecuador and are densely populated with marine life including sea lions, boobies, marine iguanas, the famous Galapagos tortoise, and of course, humans.  The world's largest marine reserve surrounds the park, although conservation and fishing activities often come into conflict.

GAIAS Institute on San Cristobal

Following our traveling adventure among the islands, we delve deeper into the study marine biology and conservation at the Galapagos Academic Institute for Arts and Sciences on San Cristóbal island. The headquarters of the Galapagos National Park is located here, in the port village of Baquerizo Moreno. Our 2-week stay provides the unique opportunity to stay with a native host family, and to carry out independent research projects in marine biology and conservation. The island has resident populations of endemic Galapagos plants and animals, with easily accessible beaches, snorkelling or diving sites, and hiking trails.

Map of Program Sites

 






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