The Galapagos Marine Reserve is the main area of marine conservation of Ecuador due to its biological importance and high endemism; features that affecmoldt the development of large efforts to manage properlyand proper management of the ir resources by the Galapagos National Park. One of these efforts is the development of applied research and scientific technical monitoring, focusing on strengthening the understanding of marine resources, as well as the evaluation and monitoring of threats that these resources are exposed to.
The Galapagos National Park is responsible for managing both the National Park and the Marine Reserve, through the implementation of its management plan and programs of joint monitoring with collaborating institutions such as the Galapagos Science Center,a research center that belongs to the San Francisco University of Quito and to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Non-profit institution, dedicated to training, research, educate and serve the Galapagos community in different areas related to natural and social sciences. . Product of this synergy, we have been working on raising basic information for the Galapagos region, through joint research activities aiming to generate information that serve as a baseline for monitoring the effects that take place on the environmental changes in the diverse ecosystems in the archipelago.
In order to generate information concerning the population status of emblematic species of the archipelago (sea lions, iguanas, birds, sea turtles), temperature values of the ocean and estimated levels of productivity in the region, a monitoring program was generated together with the Galapagos National Park, the Galapagos Science Center, the San Francisco UniversityUniversidad San Francisco de Quito, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Agency of Biosafety and Quarantine for Galapagos.
Possibly, this event has been the most remarkable and challenging of 2014 and 2015. The cruise not only gave us a huge amount of information and data, but also increased our presence in the Galapagos Islands, and confirmed our condition of key research institution and allowed us to demonstrate our commitment to the Park. This activity was a researchThe research cruise took place around the Galapagos Islands duringon October 2014 and later in the same month of 2015, aboard the Guadalupe and Sierra Negra respectively, and covered all the main islands of the Archipelago. During this time, biological, ecological and oceanographic information was generated to pass on the authorities responsible for developing conservation policies in the region.
The research cruise was a multidisciplinary work where several monitoring goals were established such as:
1.- Evaluate the pKnow the population status of the Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki).
2.-Asses the pKnow the population status of the Galapagos fur lion? (Arctocephalus galapagoensis).
3.-Determine the p Know the population status of the marine iguana (Amplyrinchus cristatus).
4.- Monitor the feeding Feeding sites of the sea turtles (Chelonia mydas)
5.-Understand Monitor the eeating patterns of the two species of sea lions in the Galapagos Islands and its relation to the environmental variability present in the region.
6.- Evaluate Study the trophictrophic ecology of marine birds in different regions of the archipelago by using stable isotopes.
7.- Monitor the diversity present in the intertidal zone of the archipelago.
8.- Assess the levels of primary productivity in different areas of Galapagos.
9.- Value the changes in the ocean temperature in different areas of Galapagos
10.- Evaluate the impact of contamination by micro and macro plastics in different beaches and areas in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
11.- Monitor the presence of invertebrates introduced in the pristine Galapagos Islands, by laying bait on.
During all the activities, a joint work between the technicians of all the institutions was done, meeting with all the goals proposed in the work plan, providing inclusive a mutual training in several of the working methods used during the expedition.
Possibly, this event has been the most remarkable and challenging of 2014 and 2015. The cruise not only gave us a huge amount of information and data, but also increased our presence in the Galapagos Islands; and confirmed our condition of research institution and allowed us to demonstrate our commitment to the Park.
To meet with the objectives, the research team of the Galapagos Science Center and the Galapagos National Park installed a Marine and Microbiology mobile lab to supportthe experiments and seawater treatments of the visiting researchers from the Marchetti
Lab of the UNC. In another collaborative effort, Marine Ecologist Margarita Brandt and engineers of the USFQ Bernard Herrera and Marcia Rueda joined efforts to investigate the vertical walls communities and their susceptibility to climatic events such as El Niño.
They also had the support of engineers fromof the USFQ Nicolás Soria and Sebastián Carillo who designed the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) called ORCA I. The ORCA I was tested for a day in the ocean island Gordon Rock, an hour from the port of Puerto Ayora, where the ability to maneuver the ROV as well as the software interface and video cameras was checked.
The objective of this effort at large scale was to generate baseline information on thestatus and health of indicator organisms and current emblematic species to determine the overall ecosystem of the Galapagos. The research sites included Fernandina, Isabela, Pinta, (origin of the turtle Lonesome George), Marchena, Genovesa and Santiago. During the visits to each of the islands, we developed fieldwork and in situ oceanographic parameters measurements for our research base line s including primary productivity, census populations of sea lions and marine iguanas, coral community ecology, whale watching, ecology of the intertidal community as well as the micro-plastic contamination.
During October 2015, we carried out the second stage of this research cruise, this way we covered two seasonal seasons in the Galapagos which would allow us to have points of comparison with our baseline.
The Center for Galapagos Studies is housed on the fourth floor (Suite 450) of the
Europa Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The street address is 100 Europa Dr. Chapel Hill, NC 27517.
There is ample visitor parking on the upper level of the Europa Center parking deck.
Postal Mail & Packages: Center for Galapagos Studies 100 Europa Drive Suite 450 Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Campus Mail: CB# 3220 UNC – Chapel Hill