Internships in Tropical Ecology Research and Conservation Ecuador
Our nature reserve is situated on the western slope of the Andes in the northwest of Ecuador. Located in the Pichincha province, it is approximately 3 hours away from Quito. The 15 hectares reserve stretches over an altitude between 950 and 1200 meters above sea level, right in the transition zone between the biodiversity-hotspots of the Chocó and the Tropical Andes, two biogeographic regions globally known as biodiversity hotspots and centers for endemism. The Andean Chocó area is known for its high diversity in birds. In 2014, part of it was declared the Important Bird Area Mashpi-Pachijal. The Un poco del Chocó nature reserve itself is home to over 285 bird species, of which 17 species are endemic to the Chocó ecoregion. Various long-term research projects study the diverse flora and fauna of the reserve. We provide the opportunity to conduct independent research projects and offer a range of internship opportunities and courses for biology and environmental science students. Interns will assist us with our different on-going research and monitoring projects in the reserve (see below some examples). They help us with data collection (field work) and data management and analysis (computer work).
- Long-term bird monitoring: Interns set up and control mist nets; extract, band and measure birds; do regular transect or point counts of birds
- Research on flower ecology and hummingbird-plant pollination networks: Interns assist in monthly flower surveys, set up time-lapse cameras in front of flowers and check the camera footage for hummingbird-plant interactions
- Lepidopteran project (studying the diversity of butterflies with bait traps and nets): Interns install and control bait traps, catch butterflies and identify them
- Monitoring with camera traps (studying the diversity of mammals and ground birds): Interns set up camera traps, replace batteries and SD cards regularly, check the footage and identify mammal and bird species
Furthermore, we conduct fruit surveys, measure insect abundance and organize environmental education workshops for local kids. Interns can also assist in research projects of other students or researchers.
A typical workday (Mon-Fri) for an intern at Un poco del Chocó usually starts either at around 6am (Avian Research) or at 8am (all other activities) until lunch time (1pm). We spend the morning on one of our different work activities, and the afternoons and weekends are free.
Accommodation and food
Interns will be lodged at the rustic, but cozy, wooden station house in the middle of the montane rainforest forest. Most of our rooms are doubles with bunk beds. In the main building you'll find the kitchen, dining area, a common area with hammocks (also used as class room) and a small laboratory. There are two warm-water showers right next to the main house. Our eco-friendly composting toilets are outside: only 10 meters away from the main house we have three outhouses. On the balconies, you can enjoy the view of the forest canopy. At the back of the new dorm building there is a deck overlooking the forest and a fruit feeder. A stay at Un poco del Chocó includes three meals a day and water, tea, coffee all day. The food is mostly vegetarian, and we eat very little meat. We can also accommodate vegans.
Un poco del Chocó
Las Tolas, Gualea
Some basic background in biology. Normal level of physical fitness. Basic knowledge of Spanish recommended, but not required.
Dates of program:
Year round with some restrictions during summer (June-August)
Duration of program:
4 weeks minimum up to 6 months
Adults of both sexes 18+
US$295 per week in the first month, US$245 per week in the second month, US$195 for any additional week. The rate for an internship covers the cost for food (three meals per day), lodging in a double room (bunk bed), use of the station’s facilities and lab, WiFi, research equipment and permits, professional supervision and taxes.
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