EDUCATION

Thanks to alliances with the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and other local public institutions, the GSC has expanded its operations to host interdisciplinary research projects. Several flagship projects have been strategically selected to provide hands-on learning experiences for local and international students. This unique opportunity is offered through our Experiential Education program.

This program is aimed at local students from USFQ – Galapagos as well as national and international students.

1. JOIN SCIENCE PROGRAM

Join Science is an experiential education program in research and science, aimed at USFQ  Galapagos students, whose main objective is focused on inspiring the next generation of Galapagos scientists. In addition, it offers a unique opportunity to gain practical and theoretical experience in different areas of research and to improve their chances of establishing professional networks.

2. LEARNING EXPERIENCES

These are educational programs designed to allow students to work closely with researchers and experience active scientific research in Galapagos.
Through hands-on experiences, students will develop a realistic view of scientific inquiry, its demands, and the excitement of discovery.
The program can be completed through a variety of options that are tailored to the particular needs of each student. It is focused on national and international students who are in their final year of high school or pursuing their Bachelor’s degree. The program offers several opportunities:

Junior Scientist

This option is for students in their final year of high school interested in science and conservation that will prepare them for university studies in related disciplines. It is designed to offer future researchers the experience of participating in active scientific research in the Galapagos. It lasts from 1 to 3 weeks.

Bachelor Scientist

This is an intensive option, specifically created for visiting students from an international university who wish to participate in the GSC’s internal flagship projects. Students accompany local researchers to experience hands-on scientific inquiry in areas of special interest. This option is for undergraduates who wish to participate in a variety of current and relevant research projects. Whether credit is received is up to each university, but regardless, the GSC helps structure a final report and presentation opportunity to share students´ findings with the local community. This program lasts from 1 to 3 weeks.

Tailor-made Research Experience

Participants will get a personalized program based on interest and time availability. This option is also aimed at professors from national or international universities who wish to teach one of their courses on the islands, with the main component being scientific research.

This option is best for international professors and their GSC counterparts to advance current research projects while deepening their students’ knowledge and research skills. All currently available courses have associated credits and a final report requirement.

One-day Tailor Made Research Experience

This option is ideal for groups of university students who have a short stopover on the island and are interested in participating in scientific research in the Galapagos.

In this option will be able to experience how science is done in Galapagos with the accompaniment of local scientists and students. They have the opportunity to learn about the implemented methodologies while understanding the main existing threats to ecosystems and species. They will also be able to learn how data is collected in the field and analyzed in GSC labs – as well as contribute to citizen science programs – and gain scientific research experience in one of the most incredible places on the planet.

ONGOING FLAGSHIP PROJECTS

Each participant on the above-mentioned programs will need to select a project from those detailed below. All programs are managed by GSC researcher Daniela Alarcón, a successful marine ecologist with more than 10 years of research experience in conservation focusing on migratory species and protected areas management.    

Abundance, distribution, and vital range of cetaceans in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. 

Principal Investigator: Daniela Alarcón-Ruales, MSc

The main objective of this project is to learn more about the abundance, distribution, connectivity, movements, and ecology of cetacean species (dolphins and whales) found around the Galapagos Marine Reserve, focusing especially on those with the highest frequency of sighting such as killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s whales, and humpback whales. Methods used include photographic identification of the dorsal fin, sound recordings of whale songs, and satellite transmitters to track regional movements. All the findings serve to recommend improvements to conservation and management strategies for these species.

Daniela Alarcón

Daniela´s work has centered on studying sea turtles and cetaceans in the Galapagos Islands and the main threats affecting these species. Since 2012, Daniela has been part of and currently leads the Cetaceans Galapagos Program. In 2013, Daniela also became a co-founder of the Galapagos Black Turtle research initiative.

Daniela´s studies focus on the population structure of blue whales, killer whales, and bottlenose dolphins in the equatorial region with the primary goal of contributing scientific information for the conservation of cetaceans as mitigators for climate change. Daniela is currently pursuing her PhD from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Understand the effects of marine litter in the Galapagos.

Principal investigator: Juan Pablo Muñoz-Pérez, MSc

This project seeks to identify distribution patterns of marine debris, and its sources, and assess the potential damage they represent to marine fauna and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The methods include a sampling of macroplastics on the beaches, observation of fauna to show evidence of damage caused by plastics, drone flights to identify the distribution of garbage images on the beaches, and sampling of microplastics in seawater, sand, and sediments. The results of the research are important to inform current local and international educational campaigns to promote the responsible use of plastics in Galapagos.

Juan Pablo Munoz-Perez

Juan Pablo has more than 20 years of experience in diving and surfing in the Galapagos Islands and ten years conducting research. His research focuses on animal movement and ecology, especially sea turtles and other marine animals such as whales and dolphins. He also understands animal health.

Since 2014 he has been a pioneer and very active in investigating plastic pollution in Galapagos with the primary objective of using science to find solutions. He is now completing a PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. More information: https://research.usc.edu.au/esploro/profile/juan_pablo_munoz_perez

Distribution, demography, and habitat use of two species of sea turtles in Galapagos: green sea turtles and hawksbill sea turtles in feeding, breeding, and resting areas.

Principal investigators: Daniela Alarcón-Ruales, MSc. and Juan Pablo Munoz-Perez, MSc

The main objective of this project is to learn about the ecology and behavior of green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles in the areas of feeding, reproduction, and nesting. The methods used include photographic identification of the right side of the face of sea turtles, in-water monitoring to perform captures and recaptures that allow analyzing the abundance of species and habitat use, and taking samples for the analysis of diet and general health.

Juan Pablo Munoz-Perez

Juan Pablo has more than 20 years of experience in diving and surfing in the Galapagos Islands and ten years conducting research. His research focuses on animal movement and ecology, especially sea turtles and other marine animals such as whales and dolphins. He also understands animal health.

Since 2014 he has been a pioneer and very active in investigating plastic pollution in Galapagos with the primary objective of using science to find solutions. He is now completing a PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. More information: https://research.usc.edu.au/esploro/profile/juan_pablo_munoz_perez

Daniela Alarcón

Daniela´s work has centered on studying sea turtles and cetaceans in the Galapagos Islands and the main threats affecting these species. Since 2012, Daniela has been part of and currently leads the Cetaceans Galapagos Program. In 2013, Daniela also became a co-founder of the Galapagos Black Turtle research initiative.

Daniela´s studies focus on the population structure of blue whales, killer whales, and bottlenose dolphins in the equatorial region with the primary goal of contributing scientific information for the conservation of cetaceans as mitigators for climate change. Daniela is currently pursuing her PhD from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Geckos and snakes from the San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Isabela islands of the Galapagos.

Principal investigator: Diego Cisneros

This project seeks to study the morphological patterns of natural history and population of introduced and native geckos on the island, to understand how this distribution occurs and how the native geckos have been displaced due to the effect of the introduced ones. Monitoring is carried out during the different climatic seasons, applying capture methodologies for a complete analysis of individuals and also long-term population censuses, through the INaturalist application. Participants may have the opportunity to be involved in the annual City Nature Challenge events and various Bioblitz events.

Diego Cisneros

As a naturalist and scientist, Diego´s research goals are to contribute to nature conservation and sustainable development, to increase knowledge on biodiversity evolution and natural history, and to promote discussions about complex social-environmental systems across space, time, and social dimensions. He is passionate about studying biodiversity, the factors underlying its evolution, distribution, and shared biogeographic patterns. Diego is proud to have contributed with the description of several new species and genres of animals and increasing knowledge on the distribution and conservation of amphibians, reptiles, birds, spiders, and insects. Over the last years, he has expanded his work to include One Health approaches of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity; urban ecology and wildlife gardens; ecology of invasive species, history of science and historical cartography; and traditional use of natural materials for decorative arts and handicrafts.

Arachnids, Coleoptera, Solifuges, Onychophora in the islands of San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela islands in Galapagos.

Principal investigator: Diego Cisneros

This project is focused on the study of invertebrates, especially spiders and ladybugs. The objective is to understand the taxonomy and the existing diversity in the islands to create a broader taxonomic catalog and to know the introduced species found in the populated islands. For this, monitoring is done once a year to collect specimens through the INaturalist application. Participants may have the opportunity to be involved in the annual City Nature Challenge events and various Bioblitz events.

Diego Cisneros

As a naturalist and scientist, Diego´s research goals are to contribute to nature conservation and sustainable development, to increase knowledge on biodiversity evolution and natural history, and to promote discussions about complex social-environmental systems across space, time, and social dimensions. He is passionate about studying biodiversity, the factors underlying its evolution, distribution, and shared biogeographic patterns. Diego is proud to have contributed with the description of several new species and genres of animals and increasing knowledge on the distribution and conservation of amphibians, reptiles, birds, spiders, and insects. Over the last years, he has expanded his work to include One Health approaches of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity; urban ecology and wildlife gardens; ecology of invasive species, history of science and historical cartography; and traditional use of natural materials for decorative arts and handicrafts.

Natural history, distribution and population situation of land birds of San Cristóbal, Isabela, and Española islands, Galápagos.

Principal Investigator: Diego Cisneros

This research project develops a population and health study of all land birds in San Cristóbal. In addition to monitoring in summer, walks are also made along the main road of San Cristóbal to carry out censuses of roadkilled birds. These activities also include participation during global events such as: Global Big Day, October Big Day, Christmas Bird Count and using technology tools such as eBird and iNaturalist applications designed to collect the data.

Diego Cisneros

As a naturalist and scientist, Diego´s research goals are to contribute to nature conservation and sustainable development, to increase knowledge on biodiversity evolution and natural history, and to promote discussions about complex social-environmental systems across space, time, and social dimensions. He is passionate about studying biodiversity, the factors underlying its evolution, distribution, and shared biogeographic patterns. Diego is proud to have contributed with the description of several new species and genres of animals and increasing knowledge on the distribution and conservation of amphibians, reptiles, birds, spiders, and insects. Over the last years, he has expanded his work to include One Health approaches of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity; urban ecology and wildlife gardens; ecology of invasive species, history of science and historical cartography; and traditional use of natural materials for decorative arts and handicrafts.

Detailed delimitation of the nesting area of the Galapagos petrel, Pterodroma phaeopygia, using Geographic Information Systems.

Principal Investigator: Leo Zurita PhD

This project focuses on the nesting sites of the Galapagos petrel and their interaction with human activities. Participants will help monitor nests and record activity on the ground, while also informing and sharing experiences with the landowners of the areas where these birds nest. This project hopes to secure the species’ place in the natural ecosystem of the islands, as well as in the areas of agricultural use.

Leo Zurita-Arthos

Leo is a lecturer in Geography at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. He received his PhD degree from King’s College London in the UK. He is also a trained ecologist and has had extensive experience in the Galapagos from his early undergraduate research work with the introduced frog species in Isabela, up to his current work with the Galapagos petrel population in the islands where this marine bird nests. His expertise in geotechnologies and geoinformation brings an important contribution to the Data Science and Visualization Lab at the GSC. His current work with petrels has yielded several new findings and questions to answer. The spatial patterns observed in the breeding sites are thought to be similar in the five islands where these birds nest, but his team is now trying to find and discover the location of the lost breeding sites in Isabela island.

Rays as model organisms to prioritize conservation areas in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

Principal Investigator: Diana Pazmiño, PhD

This genetic research project will contribute to the understanding of the population structure and dynamics of a little-studied group: the rays. More specifically, the results are important for the development of genetic/genomic resources of three species of interest: the Pacific eagle ray (Aetobatus ocellatus), the giant manta ray (Mobula birostris), and the golden ray (Rhinoptera steindachneri). In addition, the project aims to analyze the environmental and anthropological variables that can influence the genetic structure, diversity, and health of these species. Methods used include fishnet capture and freediving techniques to obtain tissue samples for each species, DNA extraction, PCR and sequencing, and genetic/genomic data analysis. Research results will help identify vulnerable areas and justify marine management recommendations.

Diana Pazmiño 

Diana is a graduate of James Cook University, Australia. After completing her PhD she returned to the Galapagos and is currently a full-time professor at USFQ based in the Galapagos Campus in San Cristóbal Island. In recent years she has built a strong worldwide collaboration network to improve our understanding of elasmobranchs and how best to conserve and manage their populations. Her main interests include:

  • Application of molecular tools in forensics research
  • Connectivity and population structure, emphasizing conservation and fisheries management applications
  • Use of eDNA to monitor marine biodiversity within the Galapagos Marine Reserve
  • Local capacity building for genetics/genomics and bioinformatics in the Galapagos.

The role of oceanic islets in the protection of migratory marine species.

Principal Investigator: Alex Hearn, PhD

The central objective of this project is to understand how well the Galapagos Marine Reserve protects pelagic migratory species, in feeding, breeding, resting areas, and cleaning stations. Methods include: marking sharks to study migration routes, taking tissue and blood samples for health and genetic analysis, and taking drone images to identify potential breeding sites. The findings are important for shaping regional policy.

Alex Hearn 

Alex is a marine fisheries ecologist who has worked as professor and researcher at USFQ and the Galapagos Science Center since 2015. He obtained his BSc in Oceanography and Marine Biology from the University of Southampton, UK; and his MSc and PhD from Heriot-Watt University in the Orkney Islands. He has worked in the Galapagos Islands since 2002 on fisheries research and management and spearheaded the development of the Shark Research Program for the Galapagos Marine Reserve since 2006. His current projects include using acoustic and satellite telemetry to establish the migratory pathways of sharks, evaluating the movement ecology of the pelagic assemblage around oceanic islets, and monitoring shark nursery grounds in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

Evaluation of the reproductive success of the Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) on the beaches of San Cristóbal with various anthropogenic impacts.

Principal investigator: Diego Páez-Rosas, PhD  

This ongoing study is looking at the effects of human settlements on Galapagos sea lion populations concerning feeding efficiency, immune defenses, and stress levels. Methods include: ground surveys of sea lions on rocks and beaches, marking of sea lion pups, and sampling of various tissues to analyze trophic ecology and determine the presence or absence of stress hormones. These findings will help understand population dynamics, feeding patterns, and human effects on these iconic creatures.

Diego Páez – Rosas 

Diego´s interest is in the ecology of marine predators and the interface between trophic capacity and environmental variability. In researching these topics, he combines laboratory and fieldwork methods to address specific questions and topics including population dynamics, health status, and resource management. More information: http://www.paezriofriolab.org

Abundance, distribution, and vital range of cetaceans in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. 

Principal Investigator: Daniela Alarcón-Ruales, MSc

The main objective of this project is to learn more about the abundance, distribution, connectivity, movements, and ecology of cetacean species (dolphins and whales) found around the Galapagos Marine Reserve, focusing especially on those with the highest frequency of sighting such as killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s whales, and humpback whales. Methods used include photographic identification of the dorsal fin, sound recordings of whale songs, and satellite transmitters to track regional movements. All the findings serve to recommend improvements to conservation and management strategies for these species.

Daniela Alarcón

Daniela´s work has centered on studying sea turtles and cetaceans in the Galapagos Islands and the main threats affecting these species. Since 2012, Daniela has been part of and currently leads the Cetaceans Galapagos Program. In 2013, Daniela also became a co-founder of the Galapagos Black Turtle research initiative.

Daniela´s studies focus on the population structure of blue whales, killer whales, and bottlenose dolphins in the equatorial region with the primary goal of contributing scientific information for the conservation of cetaceans as mitigators for climate change. Daniela is currently pursuing her PhD from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Understand the effects of marine litter in the Galapagos.

Principal investigator: Juan Pablo Muñoz-Pérez, MSc

This project seeks to identify distribution patterns of marine debris, and its sources, and assess the potential damage they represent to marine fauna and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The methods include a sampling of macroplastics on the beaches, observation of fauna to show evidence of damage caused by plastics, drone flights to identify the distribution of garbage images on the beaches, and sampling of microplastics in seawater, sand, and sediments. The results of the research are important to inform current local and international educational campaigns to promote the responsible use of plastics in Galapagos.

Juan Pablo Munoz-Perez

Juan Pablo has more than 20 years of experience in diving and surfing in the Galapagos Islands and ten years conducting research. His research focuses on animal movement and ecology, especially sea turtles and other marine animals such as whales and dolphins. He also understands animal health.

Since 2014 he has been a pioneer and very active in investigating plastic pollution in Galapagos with the primary objective of using science to find solutions. He is now completing a PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. More information: https://research.usc.edu.au/esploro/profile/juan_pablo_munoz_perez

Distribution, demography, and habitat use of two species of sea turtles in Galapagos: green sea turtles and hawksbill sea turtles in feeding, breeding, and resting areas.

Principal investigators: Daniela Alarcón-Ruales, MSc. and Juan Pablo Munoz-Perez, MSc

The main objective of this project is to learn about the ecology and behavior of green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles in the areas of feeding, reproduction, and nesting. The methods used include photographic identification of the right side of the face of sea turtles, in-water monitoring to perform captures and recaptures that allow analyzing the abundance of species and habitat use, and taking samples for the analysis of diet and general health.

Juan Pablo Munoz-Perez

Juan Pablo has more than 20 years of experience in diving and surfing in the Galapagos Islands and ten years conducting research. His research focuses on animal movement and ecology, especially sea turtles and other marine animals such as whales and dolphins. He also understands animal health.

Since 2014 he has been a pioneer and very active in investigating plastic pollution in Galapagos with the primary objective of using science to find solutions. He is now completing a PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. More information: https://research.usc.edu.au/esploro/profile/juan_pablo_munoz_perez

Daniela Alarcón

Daniela´s work has centered on studying sea turtles and cetaceans in the Galapagos Islands and the main threats affecting these species. Since 2012, Daniela has been part of and currently leads the Cetaceans Galapagos Program. In 2013, Daniela also became a co-founder of the Galapagos Black Turtle research initiative.

Daniela´s studies focus on the population structure of blue whales, killer whales, and bottlenose dolphins in the equatorial region with the primary goal of contributing scientific information for the conservation of cetaceans as mitigators for climate change. Daniela is currently pursuing her PhD from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Geckos and snakes from the San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Isabela islands of the Galapagos.

Principal investigator: Diego Cisneros

This project seeks to study the morphological patterns of natural history and population of introduced and native geckos on the island, to understand how this distribution occurs and how the native geckos have been displaced due to the effect of the introduced ones. Monitoring is carried out during the different climatic seasons, applying capture methodologies for a complete analysis of individuals and also long-term population censuses, through the INaturalist application. Participants may have the opportunity to be involved in the annual City Nature Challenge events and various Bioblitz events.

Diego Cisneros

As a naturalist and scientist, Diego´s research goals are to contribute to nature conservation and sustainable development, to increase knowledge on biodiversity evolution and natural history, and to promote discussions about complex social-environmental systems across space, time, and social dimensions. He is passionate about studying biodiversity, the factors underlying its evolution, distribution, and shared biogeographic patterns. Diego is proud to have contributed with the description of several new species and genres of animals and increasing knowledge on the distribution and conservation of amphibians, reptiles, birds, spiders, and insects. Over the last years, he has expanded his work to include One Health approaches of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity; urban ecology and wildlife gardens; ecology of invasive species, history of science and historical cartography; and traditional use of natural materials for decorative arts and handicrafts.

Arachnids, Coleoptera, Solifuges, Onychophora in the islands of San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela islands in Galapagos.

Principal investigator: Diego Cisneros

This project is focused on the study of invertebrates, especially spiders and ladybugs. The objective is to understand the taxonomy and the existing diversity in the islands to create a broader taxonomic catalog and to know the introduced species found in the populated islands. For this, monitoring is done once a year to collect specimens through the INaturalist application. Participants may have the opportunity to be involved in the annual City Nature Challenge events and various Bioblitz events.

Diego Cisneros

As a naturalist and scientist, Diego´s research goals are to contribute to nature conservation and sustainable development, to increase knowledge on biodiversity evolution and natural history, and to promote discussions about complex social-environmental systems across space, time, and social dimensions. He is passionate about studying biodiversity, the factors underlying its evolution, distribution, and shared biogeographic patterns. Diego is proud to have contributed with the description of several new species and genres of animals and increasing knowledge on the distribution and conservation of amphibians, reptiles, birds, spiders, and insects. Over the last years, he has expanded his work to include One Health approaches of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity; urban ecology and wildlife gardens; ecology of invasive species, history of science and historical cartography; and traditional use of natural materials for decorative arts and handicrafts.

Natural history, distribution and population situation of land birds of San Cristóbal, Isabela, and Española islands, Galápagos.

Principal Investigator: Diego Cisneros

This research project develops a population and health study of all land birds in San Cristóbal. In addition to monitoring in summer, walks are also made along the main road of San Cristóbal to carry out censuses of roadkilled birds. These activities also include participation during global events such as: Global Big Day, October Big Day, Christmas Bird Count and using technology tools such as eBird and iNaturalist applications designed to collect the data.

Diego Cisneros

As a naturalist and scientist, Diego´s research goals are to contribute to nature conservation and sustainable development, to increase knowledge on biodiversity evolution and natural history, and to promote discussions about complex social-environmental systems across space, time, and social dimensions. He is passionate about studying biodiversity, the factors underlying its evolution, distribution, and shared biogeographic patterns. Diego is proud to have contributed with the description of several new species and genres of animals and increasing knowledge on the distribution and conservation of amphibians, reptiles, birds, spiders, and insects. Over the last years, he has expanded his work to include One Health approaches of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity; urban ecology and wildlife gardens; ecology of invasive species, history of science and historical cartography; and traditional use of natural materials for decorative arts and handicrafts.

Detailed delimitation of the nesting area of the Galapagos petrel, Pterodroma phaeopygia, using Geographic Information Systems.

Principal Investigator: Leo Zurita PhD

This project focuses on the nesting sites of the Galapagos petrel and their interaction with human activities. Participants will help monitor nests and record activity on the ground, while also informing and sharing experiences with the landowners of the areas where these birds nest. This project hopes to secure the species’ place in the natural ecosystem of the islands, as well as in the areas of agricultural use.

Leo Zurita-Arthos

Leo is a lecturer in Geography at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. He received his PhD degree from King’s College London in the UK. He is also a trained ecologist and has had extensive experience in the Galapagos from his early undergraduate research work with the introduced frog species in Isabela, up to his current work with the Galapagos petrel population in the islands where this marine bird nests. His expertise in geotechnologies and geoinformation brings an important contribution to the Data Science and Visualization Lab at the GSC. His current work with petrels has yielded several new findings and questions to answer. The spatial patterns observed in the breeding sites are thought to be similar in the five islands where these birds nest, but his team is now trying to find and discover the location of the lost breeding sites in Isabela island.

Rays as model organisms to prioritize conservation areas in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

Principal Investigator: Diana Pazmiño, PhD

This genetic research project will contribute to the understanding of the population structure and dynamics of a little-studied group: the rays. More specifically, the results are important for the development of genetic/genomic resources of three species of interest: the Pacific eagle ray (Aetobatus ocellatus), the giant manta ray (Mobula birostris), and the golden ray (Rhinoptera steindachneri). In addition, the project aims to analyze the environmental and anthropological variables that can influence the genetic structure, diversity, and health of these species. Methods used include fishnet capture and freediving techniques to obtain tissue samples for each species, DNA extraction, PCR and sequencing, and genetic/genomic data analysis. Research results will help identify vulnerable areas and justify marine management recommendations.

Diana Pazmiño 

Diana is a graduate of James Cook University, Australia. After completing her PhD she returned to the Galapagos and is currently a full-time professor at USFQ based in the Galapagos Campus in San Cristóbal Island. In recent years she has built a strong worldwide collaboration network to improve our understanding of elasmobranchs and how best to conserve and manage their populations. Her main interests include:

  • Application of molecular tools in forensics research
  • Connectivity and population structure, emphasizing conservation and fisheries management applications
  • Use of eDNA to monitor marine biodiversity within the Galapagos Marine Reserve
  • Local capacity building for genetics/genomics and bioinformatics in the Galapagos.

The role of oceanic islets in the protection of migratory marine species.

Principal Investigator: Alex Hearn, PhD

The central objective of this project is to understand how well the Galapagos Marine Reserve protects pelagic migratory species, in feeding, breeding, resting areas, and cleaning stations. Methods include: marking sharks to study migration routes, taking tissue and blood samples for health and genetic analysis, and taking drone images to identify potential breeding sites. The findings are important for shaping regional policy.

Alex Hearn 

Alex is a marine fisheries ecologist who has worked as professor and researcher at USFQ and the Galapagos Science Center since 2015. He obtained his BSc in Oceanography and Marine Biology from the University of Southampton, UK; and his MSc and PhD from Heriot-Watt University in the Orkney Islands. He has worked in the Galapagos Islands since 2002 on fisheries research and management and spearheaded the development of the Shark Research Program for the Galapagos Marine Reserve since 2006. His current projects include using acoustic and satellite telemetry to establish the migratory pathways of sharks, evaluating the movement ecology of the pelagic assemblage around oceanic islets, and monitoring shark nursery grounds in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

Evaluation of the reproductive success of the Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) on the beaches of San Cristóbal with various anthropogenic impacts.

Principal investigator: Diego Páez-Rosas, PhD  

This ongoing study is looking at the effects of human settlements on Galapagos sea lion populations concerning feeding efficiency, immune defenses, and stress levels. Methods include: ground surveys of sea lions on rocks and beaches, marking of sea lion pups, and sampling of various tissues to analyze trophic ecology and determine the presence or absence of stress hormones. These findings will help understand population dynamics, feeding patterns, and human effects on these iconic creatures.

Diego Páez – Rosas 

Diego´s interest is in the ecology of marine predators and the interface between trophic capacity and environmental variability. In researching these topics, he combines laboratory and fieldwork methods to address specific questions and topics including population dynamics, health status, and resource management. More information: http://www.paezriofriolab.org

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