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Research Outcomes

Supported scientists are required to report progress toward research goals and objectives and research outcomes and impacts. 


PIs submit annual field reports that help us track progress and ensure that the project is aligned with our mission. These reports serve as a valuable resource for Earthwatch participants and support third-party grant opportunities. Here are some examples: 


Scientists that we support are expected to produce peer-reviewed publications based on their research findings.  Click here for a bibliography of selected publications from Earthwatch-supported projects.


Below is a sample of recent contributions to science made by Earthwatch-supported research:

2019 Dr. Cristina Eisenberg et al. (Restoring Fires, Wolves and Bison to the Canadian Rockies) found that the Kenow wildfire, a megafire, burned her study site with 98% extreme severity, but that this did not cause an eruption of invasive plant species, and increased detections of native grasses.

2018 Dr. Richard Bodmer et al. (Amazon Riverboat Exploration) determined from data collected over a decade in the western Amazon Basin that recent major floods have resulted in a 95% decline in terrestrial mammal populations. Fish, waterfowl, and giant river otter populations increased during the floods, while river dolphin and caiman numbers were stable, as were most arboreal species. Ungulates and large rodents are important sources of food and income for locals, and large declines in these animals has shifted resource use of people living in the flooded forests away from hunting to a greater reliance on fish—both as food and tradable commodity.

2017 Earthwatch research staff publish findings on use of “Measures of Success” evaluation tool for tracking and assessing project impacts. The use of such tracking tools help hold citizen-science projects accountable for project robust impacts and outcomes, while reinforcing the goals and values of institutions that support citizen science research.

2016 Dr. Joseph Dudley et al. (The Elephant Factor) expanded on their 1996 and 1998 work that first documented carnivory in the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious); their latest data showed that  hippo carnivory causes increased anthrax mortality rates orders of magnitude higher than for other anthrax-susceptible herbivores.

2015 Dr. Lee Dyer et al. (Climate Change and Caterpillars in Costa Rica) found that host diversity affects the proportion of dietary specialists among insect herbivores, and that this shifts globally. The results of this study—which included more than 7,500 species—inform our understanding of how insect herbivores will respond to climate change.

2015 Dr. Charles Higham et al. (Origins of Angkor) re-dated the Angkor sites Ban Chiang, Non Nok Tha, Ban Na Di, and Ban Lum Khoa. Their data showed a new chronology for the Bronze Age, supporting the model that the Bronze Age occurred in the 11th century B.C. These results elucidate the timing of copper base technology in Southeast Asia.

2014 Dr. James Paruk et al. (Loons and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill) found that Common Loons (Gavia immer) wintering in the Gulf of Mexico two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill showed increasing concentrations and frequency of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These results demonstrated that the oil spill continues to impact loons wintering in the Gulf of Mexico.


Below is a sample of recent contributions to policy made by scientists supported by Earthwatch funding:

2019 Dr. Cristina Eisenberg et al. (Restoring Fire, Wolves, and Bison to the Canadian Rockies): Native grass data from this project are informing a collaborative IUCN-supported transboundary bison (Bison bison) reintroduction to the northern Rocky Mountains, as well as federal and First Nations fire-management policy to restore bison habitat.

2018 Dr. Lenin Oviedo (Marine Mammals and Predators in Costa Rica) On May 4th, the Costa Rican government restricted maritime traffic in Golfo Dulce, a critical habitat for spotted and bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales. This is a major step toward the conservation of these and other marine species largely based on data collected by Earthwatch citizen scientists over the last five years.

2017 Annabelle Brooks & Dr. Elizabeth Whitman (Tracking Sea Turtles in the Bahamas): Partnered with the Bahamian Department of Marine Resources, Bahamas National Trust, Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation, and the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research to provide data that informed a national anti-poaching agenda.

2016 Dr. Russell Hill (Conserving Leopards and Monkeys in South Africa): Declining leopard observations led directly to two-year moratorium on leopard hunting in South Africa.

2015 Dr. Demian Chapman et al. (Shark Conservation in Belize): developed a shark fin ID guide that enables customs and immigration officers to enforce the CITES Appendix II listing of scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) and great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) sharks.

2014 Dr. Frank Paladino et al. (Costa Rican Sea Turtles): The IUCN used data from this project to support retaining Critically Endangered status of the Eastern Pacific population of leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). The global population listing was down listed from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable.

2013 Dr. Peter Barham et al. (South African Penguins): This research team made significant contributions to the Biodiversity Management Plan with regard to African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) on Robben Island. This plan was formally accepted into South African law.