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 researchers and their impactful projects:

  • The role of oceanic islets in the protection of marine migratory species.
  • Baseline and trends of forgotten species and habitats after a quarter century of the creation of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.


  • The sea urchins of the Galapagos as an introductory system to scientific research for Ecuadorian students and their monitoring as potential sentinels of the changes of marine-coastal communities around Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristóbal.


  • Understand the main patterns of the distribution, vital range and abundance of cetaceans in Galapagos.


  • Rays as model organisms to understand movement, patterns and use of habitat of marine fauna.


  • Evaluation of reproductive success and monitoring of population status of the pinnipeds of Galapagos Islands evolución. 
  • Retrospective study of the foraging ecology of large pelagic present in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.


  • Beaches in the Galápagos.
  • Modeling Fisheries in the Galápagos Islands.


  • Ecology of the Marine Iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) of the Galapagos Islands.


  • Evolution and Ecological Considerations of Galapagos Marine Iguana Morphology and Locomotion: A Comparative Investigation into the Invasion of the Aquatic Environment in Reptiles.


  • The contribution of herbivorous fish to rocky reef assemblages at equatorial islands dominated by upwelling: the Galapagos.


  • Rays as model organisms to understand movement patterns and use of habitat of marine fauna.
  • Spatio-temporal dynamics of the marine ecosystem of the southeast of the Galapagos archipelago.
  • Detection of oceanographic events in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (RMG), using Stegastes arcifrons and Stegastes beebei, and other species of herbivores, as indicator species.
  • Status and growth of hermatypic corals at Punta Pitt, San Cristóbal and other sites in the GMR.


  • Distribution, demography, population size and population connectivity of Galapagos horn sharks (Heterondontus quoyi) in the Galapagos Islands and their phylogenetic relationship with other Heterodont shark in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. 


  • Habitat use and monitoring of migratory movements of the population of the Oceanic Manta Ray (Mobula birostris) in the Galapagos Islands.


  • Do mangroves provide important habitats for fishery species in the Galapagos Islands?

  • Taxonomy of Marine Algae in the Galápagos Islands.
  • The Role of Temperature in Regulating Herbivory and Algal Biomass in Upwelling Systems with Maggie Brandt, funded by the National Science Foundation.


  • Modeling Fisheries in the Galapagos Islands.
  • Beaches in the Galapagos.


  • Plastic polution in the Galapagos marine reserve: quantifying impacts on marine vertebrates and proposing solutions to reduce wildlife impacts.


  • History of Pacific Marine Societies.


  • Galapagos marine algae taxonomy.


  • Distribution, demographics and habitat use of the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the feeding, reproduction and resting areas of the Galapagos.

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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!