Many of the plant and animal species on the Galapagos are not found anywhere else on earth, including 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30% of the plants are endemic. With such a rich biodiversity, many species have yet to be discovered in the Galapagos. However,  many species are also being threatened with extinction due to human activities or natural hazards, putting this special biodiversity at risk.

Our projects include topics in:

Endemism, Evolution, Biobanking, Micro and Molecular Biology, Invasive Species. 

Let’s meet the researchers and their impactful projects:


  • Genomic study of native and endemic pastures of the Galapagos Islands.


  • Molecular characterization of microorganisms associated to the invasive plant Rubus niveus of the Galapagos Islands.
  • Characterization of the soil microbiome of the Galapagos Islands.


  • Ecology and current situation of the Galapagos seabird community: study of the spatio-temporal variation of the diet, trophic relationships, distribution and the status of their populations.
  • Natural and sexual selection in the characteristics of color and social behavior of the lava lizard.


  • Galapagos genetic barcode, genetic scanning for the study of evolution.


  • Snakes and geckos of San Cristobal and Isabela, Galapagos Islands.
  • Land birds of San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos: Natural history, distribution and population situation.
  • Community of weaving spiders of orbicular fabrics (Araneidae) and ladybird beetles (Coccinellidae) on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos


  • Nocturnal pollination dynamics in two congeneric species of Verbenaceae: Lantana camara (supirrosa) and Lantana peduncularis (Galapagos Lantana) on San Cristobal and Santa Cruz Islands, Galapagos, Ecuador.
  • Structure and composition of the communities of Psidium guajava and Psidium galapageium in the Santa Cruz and Isabela Islands.


  • Anthropogenic impacts on the evolutionary radiation of Darwin’s finches.
  • Origin and phylogeography of native and introduced species in the Galapagos Islands: evolutionary synthesis of less studied species.


  • Detailed delimitation of the nesting area of ​​the Galapagos petrel, Pterodroma phaeopygia, using Geographic Information Systems techniques on San Cristobal Island.


  • Hybridization between endemic and invasive plants of the Galapagos Islands.
  • Exploring the frequency and consequences of hybridization between endemic and invasive plant species in the Galapagos islands.


  • Photography of reptiles.


  • Trophic ecology, population dynamics and impact assessment of introduced small terrestrial mammals in priority conservation areas on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos.


  • Invisible invaders: invasion patterns of non-native earthworms, their interaction with endemic fauna and other introduced soil invertebrates, and their effects on microbial symbionts in the Galapagos Islands.


  • Searching endemic rodent species considered extinct from Santa Cruz, Santiago, and San Cristóbal and conservation status of the endemic mouse of Santiago.


  • Demographic, ecological analysis and hybridization threats of two Solanum species endemic to the Galapagos Islands.


  • Phylogeography and biogeographic history of guayabillo, a Galapagos endemic plant.


  • Deciphering the taxonomic and functional diversity of the root microbiome of endemic and invasive Galapagos tomato populations.
  • Alien species in the Galápagos: quantifying environmental and socio-economic impacts and assessing stakeholder perceptions.
  • Study of the microbiome associated with species of the genus Scalesia at the Galapagos.


  • Hybridization between endemic and invasive plants of the Galapagos Islands.
  • DNA sequencing of Galapagos seaweeds: A critical need to understand the marine biota.


  • Grass Genomes X Environments: A Hypothesis/Discovery-based Approach Connecting Genome with the Phenome of Plant Habit and Behavior in Natural Settings.


  • Real-time mapping and construction of future predictive models of the distribution of native and introduced species in Galapagos through the use of low-cost unmanned ships.


  • Genetic study of feral cat diet in San Cristóbal, Galapagos.


  • Evaluation of the genetic diversity of the endemic genus Darwinothamus harling (asteracea) in Galapagos: evolutionary implications and its usefulness to define conservation strategies.

  • Nocturnal pollination dynamics in two congeneric species of Verbenaceae: Lantana camara (supirrosa) and Lantana peduncularis (Galapagos Lantana) on San Cristobal and Santa Cruz Islands, Galapagos, Ecuador.

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In 2022, the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) and the broader UNC & USFQ Galapagos Initiative will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. We are proud to announce the World Summit on Island Sustainability scheduled to be held on June 26–30, 2022 at the Galapagos Science Center and the Community Convention Center on San Cristobal Island.

The content of the World Summit will be distributed globally through social media and results documented through papers published in a book written as part of the Galapagos Book Series by Springer Nature and edited by Steve Walsh (UNC) & Carlos Mena (USFQ) as well as Jill Stewart (UNC) and Juan Pablo Muñoz (GSC/USC). The book will be inclusive and accessible by the broader island community including scientists, managers, residents, tourists, and government and non-government organizations.

While the most obvious goal of organizing the World Summit on Island Sustainability is to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the GSC and the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, other goals will be addressed through special opportunities created as part of our operational planning of the World Summit.

For instance, we seek to elevate and highlight the Galapagos in the island conservation discourse, seeking to interact with other island networks in more obvious and conspicuous ways to benefit the Galapagos Islands, the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, and the world. We will seize the opportunity to further develop the I2N2 – International Islands Network-of-Networks. Further, we wish to highlight and emphasize multiple visions of a sustainable future for the Galapagos Islands and we cannot do this alone. Therefore, engaging the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, the Government Council of Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park, and local Galapagos authorities, including government and non-government organizations and local citizen groups, is imperative.

The Galapagos Science Center on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Borrowing from Hawaii’s and Guam’s Green Growth Program and the Global Island Partnership, we wish to examine existing global programs that emphasize island sustainability and their incorporation into life, policies, and circumstances in the Galapagos Islands. We will also seek to enhance our connections with the institutional members of our International Galapagos Science Consortium and expand the Consortium through the recruitment of other member institutions. We will also work to benefit islands and their local communities by working with citizen groups as well as important NGOs who seek to improve the natural conditions in the Galapagos and diminish the impact of the human dimension on the future of Galapagos’ ecosystems.

Lastly, we will use the World Summit to benefit UNC & USFQ and our constituencies through a strong and vibrant communication plan about the World Summit, creating corporate relationships as sponsors, identifying funding goals through donors, and benefiting our study abroad program for student engagement in the Galapagos Islands. We plan to develop and issue a Galapagos Sustainability Communique after the World Summit that includes the vision and insights of all its participants for a sustainable Galapagos with applicability to global island settings.

We are eager to hear your perspective and have you join us at the World Summit on Island Sustainability!