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Our Study Sites

Our Ecuadorian study sites span a range of climates and elevations on both sides of the Andes Mountains.

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Our newest study site, Rio Bigal Biological Reserve in the upper slopes of the Amazon Rainforest is home to unque fauna and flora. In our first expedition there this last August, we documented the presence of nearly 60 species of reptile and amphibian, including several candidates for species that are new to science! Make sure to watch our video from this site.

rio bigal

Our southernmost sites are near the coastal town of Jama contains some intriguing habitats, incuding rare dry forest, of which over 95% has been cut down for cattle grazing. and we have found at least one suspected new species there: a slug-sucking snake.

jama ecuador map

Lalo Loor, located on the coast and sitting just south of the equator, includes both tropical dry forest and tropical humid forest. The reserve is a patchwork of both habitat types as well as disturbances caused by roads, banana and lime fields, and cattle grazing. Thus, the opportunity is afforded to examine the multiple influences of habitat and disturbance on animal distribution and abundance. Also, much of the habitat in and around the reserve is composed of former pastureland which has been allowed to revert to forest, with the assistance of revegetation efforts. This scenario also allows the chance to examine ecological succession on reptiles and amphibians, and to determine if, after ecological disturbances, the forests may achieve previous levels and types of biodiversity.

lalo loor map

Our second site, Serra Pata de Pajaro, represents a large remnant of tropical humid forest/cloud forest transition. We hike into this site, with the help of pack mules--a grueling two hour hike through mud up slippery slopes. As we climb from lower elevation humid forest to higher elevation cloud forest, there are drastic changes in flora and fauna, with more frogs, ferns and bromeliads. Because the cloud forest on the upper reaches of the mountains has been isolated from other such forests for thousands of years, it is likely that there are unique species found there. In fact, our latest foray to the top of the mountain yielded more than 20 species of frog that are likely new to science.

pata de pajaro

La Perla represents a remnant of tropical humid forest (a type of rainforest) that once stretched for a hundred miles or more. The forest contains both primary (old-growth) and secondary (successional) forest. Although these are rare and disappearing habitats, there is some excellent forest remaining, and we have found a great diversity of species. Indeed, one recent foray deep into the forest yielded seven species that were new to us, including the Chachi Frog (Hypsiboas picturata) and the Western Basilisk (Basiliscus galeritus). At La Perla, conduct variable and fixed-length transects on forest edges as well as deep in the forest, sometimes by wading hip-deep in creeks for hours at a time.

bosque protector la perla

Congal Reserve, our newest study site, contains some of the last remaining mangrove forests on the coast of Ecuador, but we work mostly in the humid forest inland. In our latest expedition there, we found a bushmaster: an enormous venomous viper. Virtually nothing is known about the reptiles and amphibians there, and discoveries await!

congal ecuador

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For its size, Ecuador is the most biodiverse country on earth. It holds about 8% of all amphibian species on Earth and 16% of all brids--all in a country about the size of Arizona!

Many tropical ecosystems are under dire peril--our study regions in western Ecuador are over 95% deforested!

You can help--donate today.

Find out how you can participate in a research expedition to the rainforests of Ecuador.

See photo galleries from our Ecuadorian research expeditions:

Summer 2008
January 2007
May 2007
August 2007
January 2008

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