Santa Lucia Reserve, Northwest Ecuador — The Ecuadorian Andes host some the world's most exceptional biodiversity hotspots. Unfortunately, the distribution of many species has been dramatically reduced due to habitat loss and hunting. To make matters worse, climate models suggest the Andes will experience heightened warming relative to lower altitudes as a result of global climate change. Such warming may result in a loss of many plants and the species that rely on them. Dr. Mika Peck and colleagues monitor populations of large mammals and tropical birds in the reserve. Because these animals need high quality forest habitat to survive, they act as “umbrella species” whose protection will also ensure the conservation of countless other forest animals and plants. The data collected on this project will help answer the question of whether existing reserves and corridors are sufficient to protect the wealth of wildlife in Ecuador's forests in the face of climate change.
Meet the Scientists
Dr Mika Peck
University of Sussex
Dr. Mika Peck was born in 1969. An expedition to the Ecuadorian Andes in 1995 led him to pursue a Ph.D. in Tropical Ecology at the University of Stirling, with fieldwork in Kakadu National Park in Northern Australia. The impacts of human activity on natural systems in tropical and temperate countries became the main thrust of his research and he undertook a series of postdoctoral positions investigating them. In 2005 he received funding from the United Kingdom’s Darwin Initiative fund for the PRIMENET project, which aims to conserve the critically endangered brown-headed spider monkey and other primates of northwestern Ecuador. He is a Lecturer and Research Fellow at the University of Sussex and has taught graduate courses in primate conservation at the University of Oxford-Brookes.
Ana Mariscal, born in Quito, has a degree in botany and extensive experience working at the community level throughout Ecuador on conservation issues. Based at the National Herbarium (QNCE), she is currently completing a Ph.D. while acting as the lead botanist with the PRIMENET project where she has pioneered a number of new rapid habitat assessment methods. Her interests lie in forest conservation and she has played a lead role in establishing a number of protected forests within Ecuador. She will coordinate the botanical fieldwork components and play a key role in field supervision and identification of plant species.
Tim Cane is an Experimental Officer in Geography at Sussex University and has seven years of experience in tropical conservation working with some of the world’s rarest species in the coastal and cloud forest areas of the Seychelles. He has previously worked in Ecuador as a volunteer for the PRIMENET project primarily working on aerial photography of the canopy at the Los Cedros Reserve. He will help coordinate volunteer logistics and fieldwork, and will be a key researcher, focusing on the application of aerial taxonomy in habitat assessment.