Oceans are at the base of all our environmental and ecological systems. The health of the oceans determines the health of the rest of our planet. Resource extraction, climate change, pollution, and invasive species stress marine systems and threaten the future of our oceans’ well-being. The lack of effective governance and  social institutions present challenges for ocean conservation and sustainability.

Our projects include topics in: Marine Ecology, Physical & Biological Oceanography, Fisheries, and Coastal & Marine Life.

Let’s meet the impactful projects and their researchers:


Genetic connectivity and health of cetaceans in Galapagos and Equatorial waters with other regions of the Pacific

Researcher: Daniela Alarcón

Year: 2024

Distribution, demography and habitat use of the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the feeding, breeding and roosting areas of the Galapagos

Researchers: Daniela Alarcón, Juan Pablo Muñoz

Year: 2024

Abundance, distribution and vital range of cetaceans in Galapagos

Researchers: Daniela Alarcón, Diana Pazmiño, Hector Guzmán, Juan Pablo Muñoz, Ari Friedlaende, Javier Oña, Martín Narváez Judith Denkinger, Robert Pitman, Juan José Álava 

Year: 2024

Detection of oceanographic events in the Galapagos Marine Reserve using (Stegastes arcifrons) and (Stegastes beebei), and other species of herbivores, as indicator species

Researchers: Margarita Brandt, John Bruno

Year: 2024

Taxonomy of Galapagos algae

Researcher: Margarita Brandt

Year: 2024

Taxonomy of marine algae in the Galapagos Islands

Researcher: Margarita Brandt

Year: 2024

Status and growth of hermatypic corals at Punta Pitt, San Cristóbal and other sites in the Galapagos Marine Reserve

Researchers: Margarita Brandt, Nicolás Dávalos, John Bruno, Paúl Rosero, Anna Shvets, César Zambrano, Cheryl Logan, Nikki Traylor- Knowles, Michael Connelly, Santiago Rosero 

Year: 2024

Habitat use and monitoring of migratory movements of the oceanic manta ray (Mobula birostris) population in the Galapagos Islands

Researcher: Michel Guerrero

Year: 2024

Impacts of ocean change on the Galapagos marine ecosystem

Researcher: Adrian Marchetti, Harvey Seim, Scott Gifford

Year: 2024

Understanding the biology of fish species of commercial interest in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, their reproductive aspects, spawning areas, geochemical aspects and heavy metal contamination within the food chain

Researchers: Laia Muñoz, Carlos A. Valle, Steven Emslie, Jaime Ocampo, Diego Quiroga, Francisco Rubianes, Peter Grewe, María de Lourdes Torres

Year: 2024

Spatiotemporal dynamics of the marine ecosystem of the southeast of the Galapagos archipelago

Researchers: Marjorie Riofrío-Lazo, Francisco Arreguín Sánchez, Günther Reck, Diego Páez Rosas, Manuel J. Zetina, Andrew W. Trites

Year: 2024

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

Researchers: Marjorie Riofrío-Lazo, Diego Páez Rosas, Günther Reck, Francisco Arreguín, Manuel Zetina

Year: 2024

Research expeditions on the Galapagos marine ecosystem

Researchers: Adrian Marchetti, Harvey Seim, Scott Gifford

Year: 2023

Quantifying the source and composition of marine organic aerosols in the Galapagos Islands

Researcher: William Vizuete

Year: 2020

Applied genetics and chemistry: how can sharks seized from the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 ship contribute to the conservation of Pacific shark populations?

Researcher: Juan Manuel Guayasamín

Year: 2017

DNA sequencing of Galapagos seaweeds: A critical need to understand the marine biota

Researchers: Todd Vision, Paul Gabrielson

Year: 2017

Fish and marine invertebrates served in restaurants and their relationship with the tourism industry in Galapagos

Researcher: Margarita Brandt

Year: 2016

Modeling fisheries in the Galapagos Islands

Researchers: Steve Walsh, Kim Engie, Phil Page, Brian Frizzelle

Year: 2016

Assessing the role of mangroves as essential breeding grounds for snappers (Lutjanidae) and grunts (Haemilidae) on Isabela, Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal Islands

Researcher: Joel Fodrie

Year: 2015

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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!