From left, Rich Bernstein, Chris Wood, Santiago Molina, Carla Gomes, Angela Fuller, Andy Royle, Jeff Mecham, Greg Poe visit a cloud forest in Ecuador. (Photo and caption from this article)
A Cornell team is working in the Andes Mountain range in Ecuador to help create a socio-ecological corridor that will aid in protecting a variety of species, including the Andean bear. The team is led by Angela Fuller, assistant professor for the Department of Natural Resources and leader of the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell.
Ecuador’s mountains host an enormous range of animal and plant species and are important biodiversity hotspots. Unfortunately, many threatened and endangered species such as the Andean bear are being displaced due to deforestation and forest fragmentation from the spread of cattle ranching and agriculture. At-risk species including jaguars, pumas, margays, ocelots, endemic bird and amphibian species, and even a rare type of orchid.
The team’s goal is to study the bears’ movements and resource-use patterns to help identify the best location for an ecological corridor. Since the bears’ habitat overlaps with many other threatened Ecuadorian species, the corridors will benefit the entire ecosystem.
The team is also working closely with local stakeholders to minimize any potential economic or social effects from the placement of the corridor.
“Local communities still need to engage in activities that provide income,” Fuller said. “So there are many creative ways we can think about activities that are compatible with conservation, while still providing income.”
Check out the full article on the project here!