Subtidal Ecological Monitoring Program in the Galapagos Marine Reserve

Galapagos Corals

The Ecological Monitoring Program was developed to provide the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) with a complete description of this community and to provide information on the dynamics and magnitude of the fluctuations of this biota through space and time and incorporate natural and anthropogenic effects such as climate change.
In a multi-use reserve such as the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), long-term marine monitoring works as a valuable tool to assess how communities naturally develop, as well as the how effective management measures work in order to mitigate any undesirable negative impacts between years. It is important to highlight that this tool allows us to see new developments, ranging from changes in diversity, failure or recovery of fishing populations and emblematic species for tourism, bioinvasions and potential threats to the future of the GMR due to climate change.

In 2017, a group of experts from the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) continued with the yearly ecological monitoring sampling new sites as well as historical sites. The subtidal monitoring database was updated, and the monitoring sites were evaluated taking into account the new GMR zoning. The corals at Wolf and Darwin are clearly doing well. Numerous recruits and small colonies suggest that active population replenishment is happening and that coral populations in general appear to maintain an upward trend. Both at Darwin and Wolf, few signs of temperature stress were observed with <1% of corals showing signs of bleaching. The 2018 ecological monitoring expeditions are still in process working closely with the GNPD and planning for 2019 has already started to take place.

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on the generosity of our national and international friends and donors. The "Dr. Gerard 'Jerry' Wellington Marine Climate Change Project" is an initiative by Amy Blackwell a resident of Castle Rock, Colorado, USA and as a former student of Dr. Wellington.

The project was named in honor of Dr. Gerard Wellington, a renowned specialist in coral reef science, who was a trusted Advisor to the Charles Darwin Foundation for many years. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014, but his memory will live on in the climate change work we hope to conduct on the Enchanted Islands.

Amy has already raised $117,000 to fund climate change workshops and scientific research in Galapagos. Please help us reach her $200,000 fundraising goal in celebration of CDF’s 60th Anniversary.

The Charles Darwin Foundation depends entirely on the generosity of our supporters. Please donate today.


The mission of the Charles Darwin Foundation and its Research Station is to tackle the greatest threats and challenges to Galapagos through scientific research and conservation action, in order to safeguard one of the world’s most important natural treasures.

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