An homage to field work in Ecuador

During my undergraduate studies, I did an internship in Ecuador. A good friend and I were both in our early 20s and just wanted to explore the world. When I was there for the first time, I never thought I would go there again and again…. So to share some of my impressions and experiences with you, here are some photos and maps of the region!

And to structure it all, let’s start at Estación Científica San Francisco (ECSF), where most of the researchers live during their fieldwork in the montain forests of Southern Ecuador.

Estación Científica San Francisco

The field station is located within the Reserva Biológica San Francisco (RBSF), which overlaps with the Podocarpus National Park (PNP). While the station is located in the valley at ~1800 m, the montane forest on the north slope extends to ~2500 m. On the other side are mainly pastures and farmlands. To get to the undisturbed plots, one has to take the Tarabita across the river.


The second study area is located in the premontane rainforests near Zamora at an elevation of approximately 1000-1500 m. While we worked with some “disturbed” plots (forests close to pastures) in the Copalinga area (a hotspot for passionate birders), most plots were in the Bombuscaro sector, which is also part of the PNP.


Our highest site within the national park (~ 3000 m elevation) is dominated by an elfin forest - one of my favorite places! A pretty quiet place where there is usually no cell service. Cooking outside was an experience (even if it was a bit cold at times) and we enjoyed great sunsets.

Field work

And yes, we also worked! We recorded bird calls in the morning for automated bird diversity analysis, collected data on ant abundance with various bait traps, estimated canopy and understory cover, tagged trees, and collected data on predation with artificial caterpillars. Even though I’m really not a taxonomist, I really enjoyed the field work and all the planning. I was really glad to have my PHD partner Yve in the first season and later Leonie and Julian as a great field team.

Christine Wallis
Christine Wallis
Postdoc @ CABO

Remote sensing of biodiversity