All majors are welcome to apply to spend 2-weeks in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. Ecuador: Tropical Field Biology and Conservation gives students the opportunity to apply the theory and knowledge they have acquired in the classroom to the real world. Students will travel with Dr. Karubian and Dr. Duraes to Ecuador for a two-week intensive field course. While on the course, students will experience first- hand the challenges and rewards of conducting field research and implementing conservation activities in tropical environments. These activities will take place within a context of community engagement based on active collaboration and interaction with Ecuadorian local residents in a variety of contexts.
Students will design and implement a ‘hands-on’ research project related to tropical ecology with instructor supervision. This research will be conducted at two different sites in Ecuador, one on the western (Amazonian) slope of the Andes and one of the eastern (Pacific) slope. In addition, we will visit a number of other natural areas more briefly, to provide students with some perspective on the diverse array of habitats found in the Tropics.
In addition to this engaged research experience, students will also be exposed to a number of conservation efforts. This includes visits to sustainable coffee and cacao production; environmental education initiatives; small-scale agricultural projects designed to improve the nutrition of local residents; and eco-tourism ventures.
A core value of our lab is to stem the rising tide of deforestation and species loss in the tropical regions of the globe. We focus on the tropics because they are home to more plant and animal species than anywhere else on Earth, meaning that a change in the habitat here can have a disproportionate impact on species extinction. As described on our Research Pages, we use scientific research to better understand the factors which cause and maintain this diversity. Yet we also recognize that scientific research alone is not enough to reverse current trends. To achieve lasting conservation, the support and involvement of local residents is absolutely critical. For this reason, we provide extensive training, education, and sustainable development programs in the areas where we work. Our current focus is the Chocó rainforest of South America, a global conservation priority that is being deforested at dizzying rates. To find out more about our award-winning conservation work in the Chocó and beyond, please follow the links below and view a short video we have produced.
The Chocó rainforest is a unique habitat in South Amercia that receives the highest annual rainfall (up to 16 m per year) on Earth. The Chocó boasts one of the world's richest lowland biotas, with exceptional richness and endemism in a wide range of taxa including plants, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies (Dinerstein et al. 1995). For example, this region houses more endemic species of bird (50) than any habitat type in the Americas, and is home to over 25% of the plant species found in the Neotropics. Yet because of widespread habitat conversion and hunting pressure, Chocó habitat and the exceptional diversity it supports are at risk. In Ecuador, less than 10% of original Chocó forests remain (Sierra 1996). Our research and conservation work is based in northwest Ecuador, with a focus on 15 communities in the Mache-Chindul Reserve, Esmeraldas Province and the Bilsa Biological Reserve.
Our approach to conservation is to build in-country capacity through scientific research and socioeconomic programs. On a local level, we train and employ local residents as parabiologists and environmental ambassadors; provide extensive environmental education for all age groups; and help to develop economically viable alternatives to deforestation. On a regional level, we provide honors thesis opportunities to Ecuadorian university students and collaborate with biologists, universities, and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) in Ecuador and Colombia.
To find out more about our Training & In-country capacity programs, please click here.
To find out more about our Education programs, please click here.
To find out more about our Sustainable Development programs, please click here.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org