Earthwatchers surveyed the rainforest of the Ecuadorian Andes for birds, plants, spectacled bears, pumas, ocelots, and other animals.
The Santa Lucía Reserve is home to more than 320 species of birds, thousands of plant species, and an estimated 45 species of mammals. In this stunning cloud forest, volunteers hiked through mountainous terrain toward a different research assignment each day.
They helped survey key bird and large mammal species and vegetation types to determine their abundance and distribution. This information provided reserve managers with accurate scientific data to create habitat and species action plans aimed at protecting an area of habitat that stretches from Ecuador into Colombia.
Volunteers also helped set up camera traps to record the presence of mammals, conducted bird surveys, explored the astoundingly diverse invertebrate and amphibian communities that make their home in the bromeliads of the cloud forest, and surveyed trees to determine the carbon storage of the reserve. They identified and photographed animal tracks around the camera traps, measured and counted trees, and identified species of orchids and other plants. In their recreational time, volunteers enjoyed pickup games of soccer or volleyball, took part in fiestas and dances in nearby towns, and hiked to gorgeous waterfalls.