Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation

Explore tropical ecosystems and the complexities of conservation efforts in Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.

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Ecuador is home to more than 1,600 species of birds and 10 percent of the world’s known vascular plant species. Students on SIT's Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation program have the opportunity to visit the unique ecological zones of Ecuador, studying the complex ecosystems and the vast biodiversity of the region. Students explore the entomology, geology, ornithology, mammalogy, flora, and natural history of each zone. 

The program base is historic Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Educational excursions take students to the high sierras of the Andes, the epiphyte-rich cloud forest, the rugged snow-lined páramo, and the vast rainforest of the Ecuadorian Amazon. A guided, weeklong visit to the extraordinary Galápagos Islands provides access to plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth.

In-country resources and program partners generally include:

  • Galápagos National Park
  • Tiputini Biological Station (Amazon Forest)
  • Santa Lucia Cloud Forest Reserve (Lower Cloud Forest)
  • Yunguilla Community and Reserve (Upper Cloud Forest)
  • Yanacocha Reserve (Andean Forest)
  • Papallacta Polylepis Forests
  • Antisana Ecological Reserve (High Páramo and Condor Reserve)
  • La Hesperia Organic Farm and Biological Station
  • Jocotoco Foundation

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Ecuador alumna presents ISP at major undergraduate research conference.
Program alumna Marisa Martínez was selected out of a pool of over 4,000 prospective presenters to present research conducted for her Independent Study Project at the 2011 National Conference on Undergraduate Research. In Marisa’s study, “Social Functioning of Vocal Duetting in the Rufous Wren,” birds were recorded before, during, and after playbacks. The data suggest that rufous wrens engage in duetting as a method of jointly defending territory.

Marisa collaborated with SIT’s local partner in Ecuador, Fundación Jocotoco, which works with conservation projects; the Academy of Sciences of Philadelphia, in particular with Dr. Robert Ridgely; and the Cornell Ornithology Lab, which is one of the most important ornithology labs in the world and is where Marisa continues her research.

Academic Director Dr. Xavier Silva won the Best Biological Publication of Ecuador award in 2012 for his book, Ecuador's Butterfly Ecology. Read more about Dr. Silva's book.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Quito

Language Study: Spanish

Prerequisites: Coursework in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields; 4 semesters college-level Spanish. Read more...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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