By PhD candidate Sarah Griffiths
Ecuador is one of the smaller counties in South America, but don’t be fooled – this is a biodiversity hotspot home to a number of the most beautiful and interesting ecosystems on the planet (not to mention the Galápagos Islands!). I have been lucky enough to visit Ecuador as a member of the teaching staff for our Tropical Biology field course, and in the last couple of years have got involved in some exciting collaborations with researchers at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and the Charles Darwin Foundation.
Last month, I was invited by Dr. Margarita Brandt to give a microsatellite workshop at USFQ. The workshop was a weeklong crash-course in using microsatellites for population genetics, covering novel marker development, lab techniques and data analysis. The workshop was attended by undergraduates, postgraduates and staff of the University and was a great success, with lots of interesting discussions about the fascinating research taking place in the University. Dr. Brandt and I also found time to work on an exciting population genetics project for Galápagos marine invertebrates. This important research will provide vital information for marine resource managers and will help conservation efforts both in Galápagos and the mainland – watch this space for more developments!
Thanks very much to Dr. Brandt for hosting me, and to all the course participants at USFQ for making me so welcome! I hope to return to beautiful Ecuador again soon.
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Photo © X O'Reilly