El Pahuma

Lalo Loor








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Meet Our Volunteers & Researchers

Lalo Loor Dry Forest     El Pahuma Orchid Reserve     Conservation Program     Researchers    

Let us introduce you to the wonderful people who have so generously contributed their time and skills to Ceiba, and read their testimonials.  Our projects would not be possible without their help.  We extend our deepest appreciation to all our interns and volunteers and hope that you, too, will consider contributing your time and personal skills to tropical conservation!

El Pahuma Orchid Reserve Volunteers

Jean Stefanik

El Pahuma and Conservation Program Volunteer
Sept. - Oct., 2004
New Hampshire, USA

Jean put her orchid-growing experience to work, spending ten days at El Pahuma providing training to the reserve staff on orchid care. She also spent a week traveling around Ecuador, including a visit to the Guayaquil Botanical Garden and sites near Loja to do reconnaissance work for Ceiba's education program.

The Robayo-White Family

Trail construction and maintenance volunteers
July 26 - August 4, 2004
Washington, USA

The Robayo-White family teamed up together to construct the new Shunguyacu trail at the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve. Kenny's prior trail building experience in the U.S. Park Service was a great asset in building the difficult trail that switchbacks up a steep slope and provides visitors access to previously inaccessible 50 m (150 ft.) high Shunguyacu waterfall.

"We had a wonderful, rewarding and productive time at the reserve. We ended up accelerating some of our other plans so we could return for an additional three days at the end of our stay in Ecuador." - Kenny White

Jeffrey Lewis

Botanical Garden and Nature Center volunteer
Jul. - Aug., 2004
Oregon, USA

Jeffrey spent a month at El Pahuma helping maintain the botanical garden and nature center and guiding visitors.

Brian Bruzzese

Botanical Garden and Nature Center volunteer
November 1, 2003 - April 1, 2004
British Columbia, Canada

Brian spent 4 months at the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve assisting with the daily operation of the reserve and helping with maintenance of the garden and nature center.

Caroline Douglas

Botanical Garden volunteer, Aug. - Sept. 2003
North Carolina, USA

Caroline provided valuable assistance in the orchid botanical garden, identifying orchids and helping to recuperate areas that were damaged during a rainy season flood. She is currently working as an intern for Ceiba to help create a book on the orchids of El Pahuma and the surrounding region (see below)

Stephanie Baumann

Botanical Garden volunteer, Feb. - Apr. 2003
Indiana, USA

"I really enjoyed volunteering at the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve. I loved the facilities, the food, and especially the amazing forest." - Stephanie Baumann

Summer 2002 Volunteers

from left to right: Molly Meyer (Indiana, USA), Greg Hunt (Kentucky, USA), Robin Ruether (Pennsylvania, USA) and Cory Johnson (Montana, USA). These volunteers were responsible for maintaining the botanical garden and trail system during the summer of 2002. Robin Ruether went on to create educational materials for the botanical garden after her volunteership finished.

"... Looking back at the entire experience takes me back to the amazing cloud forest. My time spent at El Pahuma was very rewarding. Mi español es mucho mejor, I have a newfound knowledge of tropical plants and animals, and have a great feeling that I took away from living in such a peaceful place. The Lima family was very helpful and entertaining; the daily interaction with Rene, Maritza, Efrain, Paulina, Oscar, and Carlos was an integral part of the experience. I came home with a great love of the primary forest along with the genuinely friendly people of Ecuador." -- Greg Hunt

Catherine Schloegel

Environmental Education Volunteer & Volunteer Coordinator
January - May 2001 & May 2002 - June 2004
New York, U.S.A.

During Catherine Schloegel's 5 months in Ecuador, she developed an environmental education program for the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve. The program includes sets of curricula for children of various ages on a variety of environmental topics such as water quality and forest ecology. Catherine established contacts between Ceiba and local schools in Ecuador and arranged visits by teachers and students to the reserve. She also wrote informational pamphlets on montane forests and Spectacled Bears which are distributed for free to visitors.

Moti displays the new CFTC t-shirtMordechai Bodner

Botanical Garden Supervisor/Trainer Intern
January - April 2001
California, USA

Mordechai ("Moti") Bodner applied his prior experience growing orchids and working in botanical garden displays in California to the creation of the orchid botanical garden at El Pahuma.  Moti planted numerous specimens in the garden, from the trees and shrubs that form the backdrop of the garden to the displays orchids and bromeliads.  Moti also oversaw the creation of El Pahuma's award-winning exhibits during the Quito Orchid Society annual orchid show "Orchids Unlimited", held February 21 -24, 2001. 

Bryson Slothower

El Pahuma Botanical Garden Volunteer
March - April 2001
Colorado, USA

Bryson worked for two months at El Pahuma assisting with trail and botanical garden maintenance. He also assisted Moti Bodner (above) on deeper forays into the reserve to document the orchids found there. Bryson noted recent evidence of the Spectacled Bear. 

"El Pahuma is an incredible place; I explored each of the reserve's several different waterfalls in my own time and was amazed by their rugged beauty.  I feel that what is being done at El Pahuma is a truly great thing; the focus really is conservation." -- Bryson Slothower.

Ashley in the Oregon mountainsAshley Martens

Orchid Inventory/Cataloguing Volunteer, August 2000
Moscow, ID

Ashley began volunteering for Ceiba in late 2000 to help organize, edit and compile the database of orchids of El Pahuma, using the images and notes compiled by Philip Myers , another Ceiba intern.  She worked from her home in Idaho to edit data entries and create a layout for the soon-to-be-published field guide to the Orchids of El Pahuma.  Later, she came to Ecuador to visit the reserve personally, an experience which she enjoyed immensely.  Ashley works as an environmental educator at the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute.

Jessica in the snow at PapallactaJessica Metcalf 

Mapping and Botanical Inventory Volunteer 
June - July 2000 
Georgia, USA

Jessica Metcalf volunteered her time to map the trails and help with the installation of the Orchid Botanical Garden at the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve.  Using a measuring wheel, GPS, compass and topo map, Jessica determined the length of each trail and created a trail map for distribution to visitors.  She also worked with members of the National Herbarium to identify and label plants within the botanical garden in preparation for the fabrication of permanent tags.  In her spare time, Jessica provided assistance during preparations for the 2000 Tropical Ecology field course in which she was later a participant. 

Phil shooting photos of orchidsPhilip Myers, M.Sc. 

Orchid Inventory Intern 
Oct. 1999 - Feb. 2000
North Carolina, USA

Philip next to a Trichopilia fragans orchid in the
El Pahuma reserve.

Philip Myers was an intern with Ceiba for 4 months. He helped document the orchids of El Pahuma during the botanical inventory of the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve conducted by the National Herbarium of Ecuador. Philip also had the rare opportunity to view and photograph the Spectacled Bear during his stay at the reserve.

See the El Pahuma Orchid List that was compiled during his internship.

Sheena, Nelson and Rene ready for rain Dr. Sheena McKendrick, Ph.D. 

Orchid Propagation Intern 
February 2000 - May 2000 
Scotland, UK 

Dr. McKendrick (left) with Dr. Nelson Zabala (center) and Rene Lima (right) at the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve.

Dr. McKendrick began her Ceiba internship in Ecuador in February 2000 to initiate an orchid propagation project in collaboration with a local university.  She is from Sheffield, UK and obtained a Ph.D. in 1994 on the ecology and ecophysiology of British orchids.  She has conducted research on orchid mycorrhizae, orchid pollination biology, symbiotic and asymbiotic seed propagation, both in-vitro and in-situ, which has resulted in numerous scientific publications.  During her internship, Sheena collected seed capsules from native orchid species at El Pahuma and germinated them in-vitro in a propagation lab.  She also conducted propagation trials on several species, trained a student on in-vitro propagation techniques and wrote a Manual on Orchid Propagation.  In 2001, the orchid propagation project was indefinitely suspended due to lack of funding support.

Dominique at work in the propagation labDominique Ortiz

Orchid Propagation Technician, February 2000 - August 2000
Quito, Ecuador

Dominique Ortiz began working with Ceiba's orchid propagation project in February 2000, when still an undergraduate student, as a trainee under Dr. McKendrick (see above).  She conducted her thesis research comparing in-vitro germination rates of select species of orchids using different propagation media and has since graduated with a degree in biotechnology. 

Dave Lauten and Kathy Castelein

Avian Inventory Volunteers, March - April 2000
Oregon, USA

Dave Lauten and Kathy Castelein spent one month in Ecuador surveying the birds of the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve.  During their short stay, they birded primarily along the reserve's trail system that traverses a rather broad elevational range with several different vegetation types, including montane forest, cloud forest, bamboo thicket, secondary forest and riparian habitats.  They documented more than 120 species in and around the reserve, including six IUCN red-listed species.  See Dave and Kathy's El Pahuma Bird Report and Species List.

Conservation Programs Volunteers

Caroline Douglas

Orchid Cataloguing Intern, Aug. 2004 - June 2005
North Carolina, USA

Caroline is helping Ceiba compile photographs and data on the orchids of El Pahuma and other reserves in the region into a field guide. She will also contribute text and help to edit the finish product.

Benjamin Skolnik

Conservation Programs Intern, Apr. - Jun. 2004
Wisconsin, USA

After spending two weeks as a Ceiba volunteer scanning slides of orchids into Ceiba's database, Benjamin stayed on as a Ceiba intern to provide general assistance with our conservation programs. He assisted in research, proposal writing and fundraising activities.

Meet our Researchers!

Please meet some of the scientists who have conducted research projects at Ceiba reserves.  They have contributed immensely to our species inventories, above and beyond the results of their research, which they make available to the landowners as well as visitors to the sites.  We are grateful to have enjoyed the presence of these researchers at our reserves.

Dr. Paul Hamilton, Arizona State University

Research Topic: Herpetological diversity in Ecuador
Dates: July - August 2005 Paul continued his fifth year of work documenting the diversity of frogs, lizards, snakes and turtles at the Lalo Loor Dry Forest reserve and other sites in Ecuador. You can see some photos of the exciting creatures he found at BSLL here! (photo at left by P. Hamilton)


John C. Clark, Ph.D. student, George Washington University, Washington D.C.

Researcher John Clark

Research Topic:  Evolutionary relationships among the Gesneriaceae and their hummingbird pollinators.
Dates: April - May 2003


John found 3 new species of Gesneriaceae in the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve!  At left, Capanea affinis is pollinated by a White-Whiskered Hermit hummingbird.

Read abstract

Nathan Muchhala, University of Miami

Research topic:  Specialization in plant-pollinator mutualisms: Bats, birds, bees
and Burmeistera (Campanulaceae)
Dates:  July 2003
Location: El Pahuma Orchid Reserve

Morley Read, Ph.D.,  Fundación Omere Wiki, Ecuador

Research Topic: A preliminary inventory of herpetofauna at the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve.
Dates:  June 2002

Centrolene grandisonaeOne of the frogs encountered by Dr. Read at the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve, Centrolene grandisonae, a Hylid tree frog.  Click the links below to see photos of some other species he found:

Eleutherodactylus duellmani
Eleutherodactylus eugeniae

Nilsmagnus Skold, Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, Sweden

Research Topic: The use of the Aeroponic Field Laboratory for the conservation of wild orchids.


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