At Sumak we seek to accomplish two primary objectives through scientific tourism; firstly, visitors learn how to approach research questions and use scientific equipment. Additionally, participants collect valuable data as part of on-going research projects, helping us monitor long-term ecological health, population status, and environmental changes. We have three primary scientific tourism projects, however we’re currently working on a variety of other studies that can be explored during your visit!
General Ecology hike
Night bio hike
Sampling Cave Ecology
Birding (guided or independent)
Long half day to Full day
This half day course will provide you with a framework to more fully understand and appreciate the natural environment around SKIS. We recommend you sign up for this free course before setting out on any adventures!
Through this open discussion you’ll learn all about the region’s unique geology, which will prepare you to get out and experience it fully!
The eco hike will lead you through forests, over streams, and pastures, learning all along the way about the natural interactions taking place around us. You’ll get to view incredible wildlife, try edible plants, and swim in beautiful mountain rivers.
This outing focuses on nocturnal wildlife, of which there is an incredible abundance in this region. Ocelots, colorful frogs, out of this world insects, and arboreal snakes are just a few of the critters you may see.
Learn about the study of reptiles and amphibians through hands-on activities. Touch live snakes while learning about our Pitviper research.
Make the leap from theory to practice - workshop to data collection!
Our cave ecology project has produced some incredible finds, including the discovery of a potentially new species of amphipod.
At SKIS we monitor a number of mammal, bird, and reptile species using camera traps. You’ll get the opportunity to learn how to operate these devices and set them up, hopefully capturing something special before the end of your trip.
Ecuador hosts over 1600 species of birds, so if you’re into Ornithology this is the place for you! Whether you want to just spend a morning with the binoculars looking out across the pastures and forests surrounding SKIS, or travel to various microhabitats in the region seeking out specific species, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy here.
For this activity we’ll set up light traps to attract insects, mostly moths. You’ll learn about native insects, their ecology and biology, and how to identify moths, butterflies, and other insect orders.
Herpetology is one of our largest focuses here at Sumak. Combine the Herpetology workshop, transect sampling, and night hike to explore this field to its fullest. In the lab you’ll have the opportunity to see and hold live snakes. We’ll explain the basics of an on-going ecology study of the Bothrocophias pitvipers. You’ll learn how to use equipment to safely handle venomous snakes, do scale counts, and draw blood for genetic investigations. We’ll give you an overview of two sampling methods, the pitfall trap and transects, and how they provide a standardized basis for studying habitat selection, spatial ecology and more. Then we’ll actually go out in the field to sample transects and the pitfall trap. The information you gather will then go into our long-term database!
A multi-year camera trap study at Sumak has provided us with some fascinating information about the diversity of mammalian fauna, as well as their movements and behaviors. Learn how to configure a camera trap, how to select a good place to set it up, how to actually install the camera, and then how to organize and analyze the data. At the end of your visit we’ll take down the cameras to see what passed by and upload the data to a public database on iNaturalist:
The subterranean world along the eastern versant of the Andes is one of the most biologically unexplored regions on earth. With over 35 caves in the region surrounding Sumak, there’s no shortage of sampling sites. We have established sampling sites every 15 meters going into the caves. At each site we sample macroinvertebrates, measure temperature and humidity, flow rate of subterranean water, and more!
-How do populations compare between different caves?
-How does species richness or abundance change as you go deeper into the caves?
-How how does flow rate of subterranean water affect community composition?
These are some of the questions we are asking with visitors as we collect data and integrate that information into our database. And we’re finding all kinds of cool stuff! We’ve registered over 25 families of macroinvertebrates, with many more morpho-species documented. We have even discovered what we think may be a new species of Amphipod!
Learn to use:
-Thermometer and Hygrometer
-Water quality test kit
-various types of nets
-Camera Traps and associated materials
-maps and GPS
-Snake hook and tubes
-Equipment to draw blood, collect venom, and determine sex
-data analysis software