The scholarship grantee, Diana Carolina Loyola taking notes in the field.

As part of its mission, the Charles Darwin Foundation is proud to announce the launch of two partial University scholarships for local students of Galápagos with an excellent academic background. The locals can conduct their studies in areas related to conservation of ecosystems and sustainability.

The scholarship covers the following:

  • Cost of University tuition up to $900 annually.
  • Monthly living costs of $300 (food and accommodation).
  • An annual flight for up to four years (from continental Ecuador to Galapagos to continental Ecuador).
  • Yearly economic assistance of $200 (field trips or books).
  • Private health and life insurance (coverage only in Ecuador).

The candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Be permanent residents of Galapagos.
  • Have a copy of identity documents (identification card and voting certificate).
  • Copy of the permanent residence card of the candidate and the legal representative if the candidate is underage.
  • Application letter directed to the Executive Director of the CDF, which demonstrates your academic interests and passion for the conservation of Galapagos.
  • Secondary school studies must have been completed in Galapagos and the candidate should have an excellent academic record, with a minimum average of 9.25/10.
  • In case the candidate has scholarship already, they must demonstrate that the scholarship doesn’t cover all of their costs.
  • For students that have initiated their University career, a scholarship will only be given to those that are up to their second semester and have a minimum grade of 8.5/10.
  • A certificate emitted by the Center of Higher Education which shows that the candidate is registered at a University, what they are studying, duration, title to be obtained, grading system.
  • Curriculum Vitae.

The required documentation must be submitted to the Reception of the Charles Darwin Foundation or sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  up to November 10, 2017.

Pre-selected candidates may be required to submit additional information and carry out a socioeconomic study as part of the process for granting a scholarship.

We invite you to participate with the sole objective of creating a promising and sustainable future that we may all feel proud of.

Fernandina volcano erupting.

Fernandina Volcano began erupting on September 4 2017, at about 18:25 UTC (12:25 local time). This is not very surprising, because Fernandina erupts every few years, most recently in 2009, and before that 2005 and 1995. All of the recent eruptions have been on the southwestern flank of the volcano: there must be stress built up in the volcano that causes the magma to be directed there.

Modern communications are amazing. I started getting texts and emails from Galápagos friends on Monday afternoon, just hours after the eruption started. Pictures were appearing on Twitter and Facebook right away. When I started working in Galápagos, in the 1980s, we were lucky to hear about eruptions a month after the fact, by letter.

Fernandina Volcano at dusk.
Fernandina Volcano at dusk. Photo by: Daniel Unda.

The eruption is pouring lava onto the west, southwest, and southern flanks of the volcano. Galápagos volcanoes have 2 types of fissures, laid out like a bike wheel. This eruption seems to be from a circumferential fissure, like the hub of a bike wheel. The 2005 and 1995 eruptions were from radial fissures, like the spoke of the wheel.

The first pictures of the eruption showed that the plume was very steamy. It is possible that the eruption began from the caldera floor, which hosts a lake, but we are not yet sure. A caldera is a large cavity in the top of a volcano, like a giant crater. Fernandina has one of the most impressive calderas of any volcano in the world, over 800 m deep.

A plume gleaming at night.
A plume gleaming at night. Photo by: Julio Rodríguez.

Fernandina had a historically important eruption in 1968. It started out inauspicious, with just a little lava. But then lake water accessed the magma while it was still underground, and huge steam explosions ensued. Hot ash flows were emplaced to the coast of the volcano, and a 24 km high plume was produced. Explosions were heard and earthquakes felt throughout the archipelago. Parts of the caldera floor collapsed 350 m over 10 days. It is possible, although unlikely, that explosions due to the interaction of water and magma, could happen with the 2017 eruption.

Thermal satellite image right after the start of the eruption on September 4 2017.
Thermal satellite image right after the start of the eruption on September 4 2017. Image: GOES Satellite.


Blackberry is one of the most damaging invasive plant species.

An international research team has identified the pathways that more than 1,500 alien species have taken to the Galápagos Islands, which will help to protect the UNESCO World Heritage-listed area from future threats.

The study, led by Charles Darwin University PhD candidate Veronica Toral-Granda in partnership with the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Galapagos Biosecurity Agency, Tourism Monitoring System and the Charles Darwin Foundation, investigated the diverse pathways taken by the invasive plant and animal species.

“Alien species are one of the biggest threats to natural ecosystems world-wide and are of particular concern for oceanic archipelagos such as Galápagos,” Veronica said.

“So far, 1,579 alien terrestrial and marine species have been introduced to Galápagos by humans, of which, about half were intentional.” At least 1,476 of these species have been established in Galapagos.

She said that most of the unintentional introductions, such as insects, had arrived on plants and plant-associated material, followed by transport vehicles, and commodities – particularly fruit and vegetables.

artsy papaya heinke 1
Agricultural plants like papaya can carry alien species with them. Photo by: Heinke Jäger.


“The number, frequency and geographic origin of pathways for the arrival and dispersal of alien species to and within Galápagos have increased over time, tracking closely with the increase in human population (residents and tourists) on the islands.”

Veronica said that despite Ecuadorian Government efforts to implement biosecurity protocols, more needed to be done to manage the invasion pathways so that the site’s biodiversity values are retained.

“Galápagos has exceptionally high levels of endemism, which means that the species under threat are not found anywhere else in the world,” she said.

“Intentional introductions of alien species should decline if biosecurity is strengthened, but there is a danger that unintentional introductions will increase further as tourism on Galápagos expands.”

An introduced ani (<em>Crotophaga ani</em>). Photo: Heidi Snell
An introduced ani (Crotophaga ani). Photo by: Heidi Snell.

The invasion of alien species began between 1685 and 1850 with the introduction of goats and rats by whalers and buccaneers, and although goats were eradicated on some islands by a government control program, Veronica said significant threats remained.

“Species such as the introduced parasitic fly Philornis downsi, which was introduced accidentally to the archipelago, are causing close to 100 per cent of some mortality rates for fledglings in some nests of the iconic Darwin finch species,” she said.

<em>Philornis downsi</em> is affecting many endemic landbirds.
Philornis downsi is affecting many endemic landbirds. Photo by: Sam Rowley.

Veronica said the research was vital to improve understanding of alien species’ pathways in a bid to prevent new incursions and make recommendations to strengthen biosecurity.

The research, titled “Alien species pathways to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador” and supported by an Australian Research Training Program scholarship and the Galápagos Conservancy, was recently published in PLOS ONE.

From left to right: Dr. Jorge Carrión (Environment Area Director of the GNPD), Santiago Dunn (Executive President of Ecoventura), Dr. Arturo Izurieta (Executive director of CDF), Eliecer Cruz (a member of CDF’s board).

As part of a launch of the new “Galapagos Biodiversity and Education for Sustainability Fund”, a  Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Ecuadorian tour-company Ecoventura with the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and Mr. Eliecer Cruz Bedón, a prominent Galapagos conservationist with decades of experience leading conservation efforts in the archipelago. This fund will provide vital support the Galapagos National Park Directorate's (GNPD) environmental management work in addition to the CDF's scientific research and Ecuadorian scientist scholarship program.

“It’s important for people to know that there are conservation efforts by citizens and businessmen who operate in Galapagos and it's also an example for others to join this cause,” stated Dr. Arturo Izurieta, Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation. 

Bartolomé Island, Galápagos.
Bartolomé Island, Galápagos. Photo by: Sam Rowley.

Ecoventura is a socially and ecologically responsible Ecuadorian-based tour operator and this new partnership is an extension of their impressive conservation efforts in the archipelago. They are also an in-kind donor and have generously allowed CDF to share their research projects aboard the M/V Galapagos Sky vessel. See details of an upcoming opportunity in December 2017 to travel in Galapagos with one of our Senior Researchers:

Our scientists will have the opportunity to join the guest aboard the M/V Galapagos Sky to share CDF research projects first-hand.
Our scientists will have the opportunity to join the guest aboard the M/V Galapagos Sky to share CDF research projects first-hand. Design: Daniel Unda.

Since CDF raises its funds independently and relies exclusively on the generosity of its donors, there are high hopes of all the work that will be achieved with Ecoventura´s help. Moreover, this tourism company is setting an important precedent for responsible tourism and in the future other organizations will emulate their business model.

In essence, tourism and the wellbeing of Galapagos’ human population depend on the survival of the flora and fauna, so by supporting CDF, organizations will be able to ensure that their businesses and the conservation of the archipelago will last well into the future.

For more information about this environmentally responsible tour operator and to book a trip of the Galapagos Islands, please visit Ecoventura’s website.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif, has its registered office located at Drève du Pieuré 19, 1160 Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103, (the “AISBL”).

© 2018 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.