In 2015, just before starting my Ph.D on road ecology, I set up and ran a project investigating the impacts of an introduced bird, the smooth-billed ani Crotophaga ani, in Galápagos. In collaboration with the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galápagos National Park Directorate I have been investigating the impacts that smooth-billed anis are having in Galápagos and researching potential control or eradication methods. One of the papers resulting from this work can be found here.
Sustainable Development Goals
After finishing my Ph.D, I was awarded funding by the Evolution Education Trust for a 3-year Research Associate position at King’s College, University of Cambridge, working with Galápagos policy-makers and conservation organisations to support the archipelago’s goal of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and recovery sustainably from Covid-19. Under this umbrella topic, I am involved in several different projects, in collaboration with Dr Chris Sandbrook, Talking Transformation, Fundación Un Cambio por la Vida (FUNCAVID), the Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos Conservation Trust, Galápagos Conservancy, the Galápagos National Park Directorate and the Governing Council of Galápagos.
40 Priority SDG Targets for Galápagos
Using stakeholder participation and network analysis I have been working with FUNCAVID to prioritise and adapt 40 SDG targets for Galápagos , through participatory workshops, and build a tool to help policy makers achieve these identified priorities. As part of this, we have identified synergies and conflicts between these targets in the Galápagos context, to enable appropriate focus of resources toward those with the potential to yield maximum benefits while mitigating possible negative impacts on others. More information can be found here.
Supporting Community Initiatives through Co-Galápagos
In 2021, in collaboration with FUNCAVID, and with the support of Galápagos Conservation Trust and Galápagos Conservancy, I co-launched a new initiative called Co-Galápagos. This works to facilitate community-led social and ecological projects that can support achievement of the identified 40 priority SDG targets.
We collate project ideas from Galápagos residents that fall under the topics featured in the 40 targets, such as education, biodiversity conservation, gender equality and clean water provision. We support in project planning and work to obtain funding for the project, often through sponsorship by tourists or other private donors. When the project receives sponsorship, we support project leaders in their work, providing them with training as necessary and assisting them in producing outputs appropriate for policy-makers. We have also launched the first ever paid internship scheme for young Galapagueños to gain experience in projects relating to the 40 targets, without having to support themselves through volunteering. More information on Co-Galápagos can be found here.
Galápagos Research Network
Linked with the Co-Galápagos Initiative, I am currently working with FUNCAVID and the Galápagos National Park Directorate to build a network of all past and present research and community projects across the islands. The idea behind this is to bring information about all the projects into one place, allow an easy overview of the work that has been/is being done and show the topics each project relates to. I will also be developing this tool to connect all projects to the 40 Priority SDG Targets, the objectives of the Galápagos 2030 Plan and the 50 Top Research Questions for Galápagos . This will allow easy understanding of what work is being done toward these ambitions and, importantly, where key gaps lie. More information can be found here.
The Galápagos Hub for Sustainability, Innovation and Resilience
I currently represent King’s College, Cambridge on the board of the newly launched Galápagos Hub for Sustainability, Innovation and Resilience. As part of this, I am working in collaboration with Dr Chris Sandbrook, Talking Transformation, and the Charles Darwin Foundation to establish a Policy Advisory Group, connected to a wider network of scientific and technical organisations within and beyond Ecuador, to inform policy and pilot solutions. This is aimed to improve the efficiency of Galápagos-focused research, enable the filling of necessary knowledge gaps, allow science-informed policy decisions to be made and allow policy needs to feed back into research aims.
Post-Covid Economic Recovery Options
To support the Governing Council of Galápagos to work toward a sustainable recovery from Covid-19, I am working with Dr Chris Sandbrook, Talking Transformation and the Charles Darwin Foundation to organise and conduct scenario analysis research into post-pandemic economic recovery options and provide policy recommendations. This project is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund.
Bird Identification Software
I began a project in 2020, in collaboration with the Landbird team at the Charles Darwin Foundation, to collect recordings of bird calls and songs around Galápagos in order to build a model to automate their identification. This software will be used to create an app for tourists and residents to help them to ID and learn the bird species in the islands. It will also be adapted to create software for researchers to aid bird surveys. This project is generously funded by the British Ecological Society.
I have also co-authored a study on feral cats in Galápagos, finding evidence to suggest they may be predating upon green turtle hatchlings and young marine iguanas, and a paper identifying the Top 50 Research Questions for the islands.