CTR - IRTC Ecuador

International Research and Training Center - Ecuador


Ecuador is a global priority for the conservation of biodiversity. It combines the highest density of species diversity per unit area in the world, the highest human population density in South America, and an economy based on exploitation of natural resources. The Center for Tropical Research (CTR) established an International Research and Training Center (IRTC) in Quito, Ecuador in late 2001. Our mission is to achieve conservation results by combining highest quality scientific research with on-the-ground socioeconomic approaches in close collaboration with Ecuadorian nationals.

The Ecuador IRTC is directed by Dr. Jordan Karubian, CTR’s Latin America Director. Leveraging four years of in-country presence, Dr. Karubian has developed strong partnerships with local and international collaborators in a range of disciplines from universities, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These relationships have developed into research, training, and social outreach projects throughout the country, with a priority focus on the Chocó rainforests of northwestern Ecuador.

CTR’s scientific research program in Ecuador is notable for its breadth and depth. Current studies include focused research on high profile, endangered species like the Long-wattled Umbrellabird and the Scarlet Macaw, as well as multidisciplinary approaches to broader-level ecological and evolutionary processes and patterns. All research conducted by CTR includes Ecuadorians at various levels and is designed to provide information needed for conservation.


CTR has produced a 20-minute video of CTR's research, training, and educational projects in the Chocó rainforests of Ecuador. To request a DVD of the video, please email Jordan Karubian at jordank@ucla.edu. A shortened version of the video (available in English and Spanish) can be viewed by clicking on the links below.

Click here for a five-minute streaming video of CTR's projects in Ecuador.

Chocó Rainforest

Due to their outstanding importance for conservation, Chocó rainforests are the primary focus of our research in Ecuador. Since 2002, we have been implementing a coordinated, long-term integrative research program in this little-known habitat type. In addition to detailed studies of the Long-wattled Umbrellabird, the Purple-throated Fruitcrow, the Banded Ground-cuckoo, and the Sickle-billed Hummingbird, we have been carrying out long-term monitoring of birds, amphibians, and fruit production in relation to habitat quality. For more information on CTR’s research in the Ecuadorian Chocó, click here.

Ecuador and Beyond

CTR also conducts extensive research in the Amazon basin, the Andes, and in the coastal dry forests. This research includes studies on macaws in the Amazon, Adelomyia hummingbirds in the Andes, migratory bird species, effects of habitat degradation on natural populations, tests of various reforestation methods, and analyses of the processes which generate and maintain biodiversity. For more on CTR’s research across Ecuador and the rest of Latin America, please click here.


Top-level scientific research forms the basis of an extensive training program for Ecuadorian nationals. CTR has helped design and oversee several honor's theses for Ecuadorian university students, has included several students as coauthors on scientific publications, and has been instrumental in assisting students wanting to obtain advanced degrees in biology in the United States. We have also collaborated with Ecuadorian biologists from a range of universities and NGOs. On a local level, we have trained community members as field biologists in a very successful outreach program in the Chocó. We also have also worked with dozens of international undergraduate and graduate student projects. For more information on CTR’s training program in Ecuador, including volunteer and honor's thesis opportunities, please click here.

Education and Outreach

At CTR, we believe that community education is a fundamental step toward achieving long-term conservation results. CTR has established a large-scale education initiative in the Ecuadorian Chocó, which operates through local schools to provide environmental education to children in a dozen communities. We complement this program with hands-on, field-based teaching modules and with presentations directed toward adult residents. To find out more about this exciting program, click here.

CTR’s work in Ecuador depends entirely upon grants and donations. We extend special thanks to the following funding sources, and encourage any individuals or groups who are excited by our work to make a donation:

  • Audubon Society
  • Chicago Zoological Society
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, Inc.
  • Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund
  • Fulbright Fellowship Program
  • National Geographic Society
  • National Science Foundation
  • Neotropical Bird Club
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Switzer Foundation
  • Wildlife Conservation Society

CTR Bird

Center for Tropical Research | UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
La Kretz Hall, Suite 300 | 619 Charles E. Young Dr. East | Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

The Center for Tropical Research, located on the third floor of La Kretz Hall, is part of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. For general inquiries, contact Christa Gomez, CTR Office Manager, at (310) 206-6234, or by email at cgomez@lifesci.ucla.edu. Visitors are always welcome.

Back to Top