EPHI Ecuador & Institutions

Tatiana Santander

Principal Investigator and Coordinator

Tatiana is a Biologist from Catholic University of Ecuador, and holds a Master in Protected Areas from the Autonomous University of Madrid. She has worked for more than fifteen years in bird research and conservation and is Project Coordinator at Aves y Conservación/BirdLife in Ecuador. Her main interest is focused on hummingbirds´ ecology, particularly in the ecology of one of the most threatened species, the Black-breasted Puffleg. In addition, she has leaded the Neotropical Waterbird Census program since 2004, she is part of the National Committee of the Ecuadorian Ornithological Meetings since 2005 and the Ecuadorian Bird Red List Working Group. Tatiana has collaborated from the beginning of EPHI project in 2016 with Prof. Catherine Graham. She has also collected data on floral phenology, plant-hummingbird interactions, and nectar availability mainly in the Yanacocha and Verdecocha transects. Tatiana has been pivotal in translating the ecological knowledge generated from EPHI project into conservation actions. In collaboration with colleagues in Ecuador native plants visited by hummingbirds are being propagated for habitat restoration and enrichment, this activity is funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and more recently by WWF’s Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program.

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Francisco Tobar 


Francisco graduated from the Universidad Técnica del Norte de Ibarra with a degree in Natural Resources Management Engineering. He is a researcher associated with the National Herbarium of Ecuador and a specialist in the Orchidaceae family. He has worked as a Botanist for the EPHI project since 2017, identifying plant species used by hummingbirds in all transects; conducting plant collections to be deposited in the herbarium, reviewing nomenclature of the species, developing protocols of flowers collection and morphometric measurements, and elaborating plant field guides. Francisco has also collaborated by taking phenology data, collecting flowers of all species identified during the project and conducting field photography of them to proceed with morphometric measurements. As a result of the extensive botanical work, it has been possible to identify new species for science that are being described by Francisco and expert collaborators in some botanical groups.

Holger Beck


Holger works as guide and coordinator of scientific research in the Santa Lucía Cloud Forest reserve in North-Western Ecuador. Having a profound interest in nature he has been in charge of different research activities, such as camera trapping and bird monitoring. He has been collecting data for the EPHI-project since 2013 doing transects and placing cameras on six transects along an elevation gradient from 1.300m to 2.500m in the Santa Lucía and the Maquipucuna reserve.

Nicole Büttner


Nicole is a German Biologist who has been living in Ecuador for 12 years. In 2004-2005 she did the field work for her Master thesis near Mindo (Sachatamia) where she investigated the pollination systems of Bromeliads. Since 2008, she has been the owner of Un Poco del Chocó reserve, one of the private reserves part of the EPHI project. Nicole and her field assistant Christian collect data on flower phenology and pollination networks in the forest and deforested transects. In addition, several research projects are conducted in the reserve with students, who take nectar measurements, collect pollen on hummingbirds, and measure the impact of artificial hummingbird feeders. Nicole collaborates as a researcher with the EPHI project and oversees the various associated projects.

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Andrea Nieto


Andrea is a Biologist graduated from Universidad del Azuay, Ecuador, she recently finished her Master’s degree in Ecology and Conservation at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil. Her professional interests are interaction networks, pollination ecology and biodiversity conservation. She was the coordinator of the EPHI project in Ecuador during 2017, when she also conducted flower censuses and placed cameras in Las Gralarias and Mashpi reserves. Between 2018-2020 she was part of EPHI Brazil, where she collaborated with the project through her master’s thesis. Her research was based on daytime niche partitioning of hummingbirds and plants in the southeast of the Atlantic Forest. Andrea will continue her collaboration with the project and will soon start looking for PhD opportunities in order to expand her knowledge about hummingbirds and plants.

Friederike Richter


Friederike is a Biologist with specialization in ecology, ornithology and conservation.  She worked on different bird and ecosystem research projects in Europe and Africa before becoming involved in EPHI project Ecuador between 2018 and 2019. Friederike supported the project coordination and data collection of floral resources and plant-hummingbird interactions in two transects located in Las Gralarias and Mashpi reserves. She currently coordinates the Americas program of Important Biodiversity Areas (IBAs and KBAs) at the regional Secretariat of BirdLife International.

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Andrés Marcayata  


Andrés is a Biologist from Universidad Central del Ecuador and he has worked and volunteered in different projects related to the study of birds. He did an internship in Arizona with the Hummingbird Monitoring Network to learn about hummingbird monitoring techniques. He has also participated in waterbird and Andean Condor censuses. He collaborated with the EPHI project between 2018 and 2019, collecting data on floral resources and placing cameras in Sachatamia, Mashpi and Alaspungo reserves.

María José Gavilanes


María José is a zoologist who graduated from Universidad San Francisco de Quito. She has participated in the EPHI project since 2018 as assistant of the botanical component. She is helping with plants sample collection, measuring flower traits and elaborating field plates for hummingbirds’ plants identification for all transects. In addition, she collaborates in the digitization of plant-hummingbird interaction data, as well as in the review of information in the database.

Field Assistants

EPHI Project Ecuador had the valuable participation of local people who have been our field assistants helping with camera placement and change in each transect. Wilson Hipo, Rolando Hipo and Silvio Calderón were at Yanacocha and Verdecocha; Roberto Paillacho from Alaspungo; Segundo Imba and Gera Obando in Las Gralarias; Daniel Ponce in Sachatamia; Michael Carlosama from Puyucunapi; Noé Morales in Santa Lucía; Diana Salvador in Rumisitana; Sergio Basantes from Amagusa; Christian Montalvo in Un Poco del Chocó; Darío Medina, Anderson Medina, Kevin Cortez y Andrés Paladines from Mashpi.


In Ecuador, the EPHI project is led by Aves y Conservación / BirdLife in Ecuador, a non-governmental, non-profit organization created in 1986 by a group of ornithologists and bird enthusiasts. Its mission is to contribute to the study and conservation of birds, their habitats and the biodiversity of Ecuador, for the benefit of the people and with their active participation. It is also part of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the National Working Group for the Conservation of the Andean Condor and the Ecuadorian Coordination of Organizations for the Defense of Nature and the Environment. The organization has a national scope, covering continental Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands where they have identified 110 Key Areas for the Conservation of Birds and Biodiversity (KBAs), which are the focus of their conservation efforts.

In addition, the project would not have been implemented without the support and collaboration of Santa Lucía, Fundación Maquipucuna, Un Poco del Chocó, Mashpi Lodge, Fundación Las Gralarias, Amagusa, Sachatamia Lodge, Fundación Jocotoco, Verdecocha, Mindo Cloud Forest, Rumisitana, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, and Alaspungo community.