Earthwatch scientist Dr. Mika Peck studies the impact of human activity on the rainforest of the Ecuadorian Andes, a biodiversity hotspot.
Why the Ecuadorian Andes?
An expedition to the Ecuadorian Andes in 1995 led Mika Peck to pursue a Ph.D. in tropical ecology at the University of Stirling (Australia), with fieldwork in Kakadu National Park in northern Australia. The impact of human activity on natural systems in tropical and temperate countries became the main thrust of his research. In 2005 he received funding for the Primenet project, which aims to conserve the critically endangered brown-headed spider monkey and other primates of northwestern Ecuador. Says Dr. Peck: “This is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It can only be reached by donkey, trekking for five hours. It is a fairytale setting - orchids, hummingbirds, big cats, tapirs, moths the size of dinner plates - and is one of the richest areas for bird species."
A great moment in the field:
Says Dr. Peck: “We took our work a stage further as capacity has been built to run and manage a research station in the western Andean slopes at the Santa Lucía Reserve. The station links communities to local and international scientists to address real issues facing people, habitat, and wildlife. It also plays a key role in sustainable development, providing income to the community-owned Santa Lucía Cloudforest Reserve and capacity-building for the next generation of Ecuadorian researchers.”