USFQ and the Galapagos Science Center participates in the Darwin200 expedition in the Galápagos: research and conservation

Photo by Josh Clarke.

  • Pieter Van ‘t Hof, Diana Pazmiño, Daniela Alarcón, and Juan Pablo Muñoz, professors at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and researchers at the Galapagos Science Center (GSC), will embark on the Darwin200 expedition, contributing to three out of the eleven research projects that will be carried out in the Galápagos to study and raise awareness about the impacts of global warming on the archipelago, as well as the conservation status and health of its nature.
  • Darwin200 and the Galapagos Science Center will closely collaborate from May 14th to 17th to expand on Darwin’s observations and address environmental challenges through joint research and conservation actions.
  • The Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) are organizing an in-person and Zoom talk on Friday, May 17th, at its headquarters on San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos, to address the importance of involving the local community in conservation efforts to ensure the sustainable development of the region.
  • Sarah C. Darwin, great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, who has already completed her PhD on the endemic tomatoes of the Galápagos, returns to the islands to sample the region’s tomatoes as part of the Darwin200 expedition.
Photo by Josh Clarke.
The historic Dutch ship Oosterschelde, a symbol of the Darwin200 project, arrived at the Galápagos Islands on Thursday, April 25th, marking the beginning of an unprecedented scientific and educational collaboration with the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) and professors from USFQ, aiming to explore and document biodiversity and expand on Darwin’s observations. With a focus on current environmental challenges, the team will conduct research and conservation efforts, highlighting the commitment and academic excellence of the GSC and USFQ in science and education.
Photo by Karina Vivanco.
During their stay in the Galapagos, various activities will be carried out in collaboration with four professors from USFQ and researchers from the GSC. Pieter Van ‘t Hof, a biology professor, will lead a project on the microbiome associated with leaves and roots of the endemic Galápagos tomato, in conjunction with Sarah C. Darwin and Hanna Hogenboom, Darwin200 leader. Diana Pazmiño will focus on studying the breeding areas of various species of rays and sharks on the islands, with the collaboration of Alfredo Salazar, Darwin200 team. Meanwhile, Daniela Alarcón and Juan Pablo Muñoz will work on the ecology of sea turtles, focusing on the hawksbill turtle, in a project with Itamar Da Silva Santana, Darwin200 team. These collaborations not only highlight the unity among scientists but also offer a broader insight into the impact of climate change on the region’s biodiversity, addressing aspects such as the microbiome of endemic tomatoes, shark and ray breeding areas, and sea turtle ecology.
Photo by Karina Vivanco.

On Monday, April 29th, the Darwin200 team, led by Rolf Schreuder and composed of 4 lead researchers and 3 members of the audiovisual team, visited the GSC. Naia Andrade, a student at USFQ and audiovisual producer, emphasized the importance of the visit to explore and share their passion for research and conservation in the Galápagos. During their stay, they were able to tour the facilities of USFQ Galapagos and the laboratories of the GSC, impressed by the ongoing projects. This visit represents an invaluable opportunity to inspire more people in the fight against climate change and biodiversity conservation.

The results of the Darwin200 expedition will be documented in three films. This ambitious journey promises to generate content of great relevance, both for the scientific community and for enthusiasts of environmental challenges, by promoting collaboration in research and conservation.

For more information about Darwin200:

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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!