The study is located in the Chocó lowland forest of North-West Ecuador, an area that faces particularly high deforestation rates. Only about 2% of the Ecuadorian Chocó still harbours mature tropical lowland forest that covered this bioregion until only half a century ago. We will work within and around forest reserves owned by Fundación Jocotoco, a private Ecuadorian conservation foundation. This includes the Canandé Reserve and Tesoro Escondido Reserve and their surroundings, and the village Hoja Blanca (0.56°N, -79.20°W). See satellite images in Google maps.
The diversity of plants and animals in this region is particularly high and similar to the Amazon, but far less known. Endemism is particularly pronounced: a quarter of the plant species and over 100 of the 900 bird species are endemic to the Chocó. The forest harbours threatened populations of brown-headed spider monkeys, endemic Magnolia and Ecuadendron trees among many other threatened species. In Canandé, 140 species of reptiles and amphibians have been recorded. It is a lowland rainforest (elevation 100 – 600 m a.s.l.) with a mean annual temperature of ca. 24°C and annual precipitation of 2100 mm with weak seasonality.