Contribution starting at $2,850
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
10 days (avg. $285 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Wildlife & Ecosystems

Mapping Biodiversity in Cuba

Location
Lomas de Banao Ecological Reserve, Sancti Spíritus, Cuba Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Moderate
Accommodations
Couples Rooms possible
Research Station
Food
Chef-prepared meals
Special diets accommodated
A green parrot (C) Dr. Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers observe wildlife in the trees (C) Dr. Natalia Rossi
A brightly colored lizard in a tree (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers measure trees (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers plant seedlings (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
A brightly colored bird sits on a branch (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers collect data in a tree plot (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers collect data (C) Sasha Reford Gonzalez
A green parrot (C) Dr. Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers observe wildlife in the trees (C) Dr. Natalia Rossi
A brightly colored lizard in a tree (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers measure trees (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers plant seedlings (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
A brightly colored bird sits on a branch (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers collect data in a tree plot (C) Dr Natalia Rossi
Earthwatch volunteers collect data (C) Sasha Reford Gonzalez

Cuba is on the cusp of a wave of economic development, threatening some of the unique biodiversity living there. Help researchers and wildlife managers to gain a better understanding of wildlife within protected areas in Cuba to better conserve these species.


Earthwatch volunteers collect data (C) Sasha Reford Gonzalez

The mountainous forests of Lomas de Banao Ecological Reserve are home to species only found in the Caribbean—including the vulnerable Cuban Parakeet and the near threatened Cuban Amazon Parrot. Despite this unique biodiversity, long-term political complexities with the U.S. and other nations stymied collaborative international research. But now international relations are improving, making this a critical moment for the island nation's wildlife. As Cuba becomes more open to the world, many predict new economic opportunities and the development that comes along with it.

Researchers are now able to recruit citizen scientists to help them take stock of the wildlife that inhabit these beautiful protected lands, information that will be crucial to informing management and conservation plans as the island becomes increasingly developed. Volunteers will work with a team of scientists from Cuba and Argentina to document the many endemic and migratory bird species that inhabit the reserves through sightings and audio recordings, survey the flowers and trees, and monitor amphibian species for the presence of the chytrid fungus (which leads to an infectious disease that has decimated amphibian populations worldwide). The data collected will help to paint a more complete picture of these protected areas and how increased development could impact biodiversity in the future.

By studying birds, trees, and amphibians—species that are indicators of habitat quality—scientists hope to gain a better understanding of the overall ecosystem during a pivotal moment for Cuba.

 

A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Meet, travel to field site
  • Day 2: Orientation and training
  • Days 3-5: Monitor birds and amphibians
  • Days 6-9: Survey forest trees
  • Day 10: Departure.

HOW YOU WILL HELP

When you arrive, the researchers will provide you with training and information on studying and assessing biodiversity within the reserve. Field work will begin on Day 3, where you will:
Earthwatch volunteers collect data on birds (C) Dr. Natalia Rossi
Monitor birds and amphibians

Explore the Banao River Basin as you work alongside researchers to observe and record bird and amphibian species while collecting samples of vocalizations.

Earthwatch volunteers look for wildlife in the forest (C) Dr. Natalia Rossi
Survey forest trees

Walk through the forests of Banao as you identify and document tree species, measure canopy coverage, and look for indications of human impact.

Community engagement (C) Dr. Natalia Rossi
Community engagement

Interact with local community members to understand the importance of conservation research, including monitoring waterbird species and amphibians to determine climate and water quality, and the value of protecting nearby forests and rivers.

You will start the work at the Jarico field station, then partway through the expedition, you will move to the second research location—a few hours hike up the mountain to La Sabina field station, where there is a stunning view of the Caribbean Sea on clear days.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

5 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Joanne McDermott | August 17, 2019
What a fantastic experience! I feel very, very lucky to have been able to spend time with such amazing scientists and researchers - true experts in their fields. This trip far exceeded my expectations in terms of the exposure to the research and getting a feel for how studies like this add to the bank of data about biodiversity in a country. The team - researchers and support staff - were just fantastic! Very knowledgeable, excited to share their work with us, patient, and fun.
Margaret Faucher | July 17, 2018
When most people think of Cuba vintage cars, cigars and rum come to mind. But there is another side of Cuba, forest-clad mountains filled with species of animals and plants found no where else on the planet, that most people will never see. This expedition gives you the opportunity to experience the amazing biodiversity of Cuba and to help local scientists to conserve it. Where else can you see the smallest bird in the World and colorful lizards doing push-ups? Come to Cuba and see for yourself the incredible variety of life here and how you can help protect it for future generations!
Amy Kvalseth | April 12, 2018
This expedition exceeded my expectations! The area is a lush (keeping in mind it had been hit by storms from hurricanes 6 months earlier) forested, mountain ecological reserve with paths through the forest used as the transects. The activities are varied, so there's something for everyone. The scientists are terrific, very approachable, knowledgeable and personable, and take the time to educate as they go. There's time to rest in between walking transects. La Sabina camp is a treat at the top of the mountain!

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