Current Project: 2020-2023

RLA 7/025 – Strengthening Capacities in Marine and Coastal Environments Using Nuclear and Isotopic Techniques.

Participating Institutions:

Instituto Público de Investigación de Acuicultura y Pesca (IPIAP)

Research Areas::

  • Ocean Acidification.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Marine Biotoxins.
  • Microplastic contamination.

ESPOL. Facultad de Ciencias de la Vida (FCV)

  • Ocean Acidification.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Marine Biotoxins.
  • Microplastic contamination.
  • Chemical Contamination.
  • Eutrophication.

ESPOL. Facultad de Ingeniería en Ciencias de la Tierra (FICT).

Research Areas::

  • Chemical Contamination.
  • Eutrophication.

ESPOL. Facultad de Ingeniería Marítima y Ciencias del Mar (FIMCM).

Research Areas::

  • Ocean Acidification.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Marine Biotoxins.
  • Microplastic contamination.
  • Chemical Contamination.
  • Eutrophication.

Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manabí (ULEAM).

Research Areas::

  • Ocean Acidification.
  • Chemical Contamination.
  • Eutrophication.

THE PROBLEM

Billions of people depend on the oceans for their livelihoods, therefore greater efforts and interventions are needed to conserve and sustainably use ocean resources.

Progress in the sustainable use and conservation of the oceans continues to require effective management and strategies to combat the adverse effects of overfishing, increasing ocean acidification, marine debris and nutrient pollution, and worsening coastal eutrophication.

Anthropogenic CO2 accelerates ocean warming and acidification by lowering the pH of seawater and the saturation state of calcium carbonate. The coincidence of naturally high CO2 conditions with periodic warming events caused by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an issue that must be deeply analyzed both in continental Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands.

High-density algal blooms can cause marine life to be anoxiated, killing them and blocking sunlight at the surface of the water column, even at low densities. In Ecuador, there is information on at least sixty-seven HAB events between 1997 and 2017, with 12 phytoplankton species identified as toxin producers. Oceanographic and climatic conditions play an important role in the occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HAB), which can also be exacerbated by climate variability, El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and anthropogenic nutrient loading from different sources.

In Ecuador, there is little published information on the impact of plastic on underwater life. Plastic debris (>4cm) in Humboldt squid stomachs and the impact of plastics on beaches, especially in the Gulf of Guayaquil, have been reported. Currently, microplastic pollution studies focus on the impact on underwater life. Due to their small size (<5 mm) they can be easily ingested by aquatic organisms such as fish, molluscs, and eventually humans, where their effects have not yet been reported.

INFORMATION FOR ACTION

ESPOL's Environmental Health and Toxicological Research Laboratory maintains a line of research on the presence and impacts of macroplastic contamination in the areas of Data de Posorja (sandy beaches), the Manglares El Salado Wildlife Production Reserve, coastal beach areas and mangrove ecosystem in the Galapagos Archipelago and Antarctic Peninsula.

GMaRE is a joint research group made up of members of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos CDF, an international non-profit scientific organization, and the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral ESPOL. The focus of the joint research group is the understanding of the Galapagos marine ecosystems to support their conservation.

The ULEAM-EBIOAC group aims to establish research on ocean acidification in Ecuador and related to equatorial species. The group began in 2014 under a collaboration framework between the National Secretariat for Higher Education, Science and Technology SENESCYT and ESPOL. Since 2016, the EBIOAC group has been housed in the Faculty of Marine Sciences of the Universidad ULEAM.

The Inocar whose objective is to carry out, direct, coordinate and control all oceanographic, geophysical and maritime environmental science monitoring and exploration work.

Country Members:

Eddy Sanclemente Ordoñez. Geology Engineer, MSc. in Earth and Environmental Sciences in System Dynamics and Geological Hazards, PhD in Planet Earth Sciences.

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL). Facultad de Ingeniería en Ciencias de la Tierra (FICT).

Role in the Project:  National Counterpart – Ecuador       

Contact info: esanclem@espol.edu.ec 

 Professor at the Faculty of Engineering in Earth Sciences (FICT) - Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Ecuador and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering in Earth Sciences-ESPOL. In 2007 he obtained the title of Electrical Engineer specializing in Power, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Ecuador. He holds a Master's degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences in System Dynamics and Geological Hazards, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France (2010) and a PhD in Planet Earth Sciences, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France (2014).

Jorge Rafael Bermudez Monsalve. PhD in Natural Sciences, specialization in Marine Biogeochemistry.

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL).

Role in the Project:  Researcher

Contact info: jrbermud@espol.edu.ec

Rafael Bermúdez is Professor at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and local coordinator of the Galapagos Marine Research and Monitoring Program GMaRE (www.gmare.org). His research focuses on marine plankton diversity and anthropogenic impacts in the eastern equatorial Pacific, where the Humboldt and Panama currents meet. He has collaborated with the International Atomic Energy Organization in Monaco on the effect of marine microplastics on planktonic organisms. He has also worked on the effect of ocean acidification on the biomolecular composition of primary producers and its concomitant influence on food webs at the GEOMAR Research Center in Kiel, Germany. He also worked on the effect of fluvial inputs on primary productivity in the southern part of the Humboldt Current System at the EULA Center in Concepción, Chile. 

Mercy J. Borbor Cordova. Oceanographer. MSc, PhD in Environmental Sciences.

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL).

Role in the Project:  : Researcher in the HAB and Eutrophication component.       

Contact info: meborbor@espol.edu.ec

Mercy J Borbor Córdova, an oceanographer with a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the State University of New York. She is a professor and researcher at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL, Ecuador). She managed to combine functions as a researcher and public official involved in decision-making processes at the local, regional and national levels in the areas of environmental management and climate change policies. In her role as a researcher, she applies a socio-ecological systems conceptual framework, using a space-time analysis to her studies of climate variability and its relationship to harmful algal blooms (HABs) and eutrophication, with an emphasis on the interaction of climate and human health and climate risk reduction. Mercy is dedicated to researching and transferring science to different actors, identifying measures of resilience and adaptation to climate change. She is the lead author for the Assessment Report 6 (AR6) in the Mitigation Working Group III, (2019-2022) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is a member of the expert group for capacity development for Climate Services, of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Katiuska Paola Calle Delgado. Biologist, Aquaculture Engineer, MSc. PhD. in Marine Sciences with orientation in Ecotoxicology.

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL).

Role in the Project:  Researcher in the Eutrophication and Microplastics component.

Contact info:  pcalle@espol.edu.ec

Paola Calle Delgado, biologist, aquaculture engineer with a master's and doctorate in Marine Sciences with a focus on Ecotoxicology from the University of South Carolina. She is a professor and researcher at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL, Ecuador). She has been Deputy Dean of the Faculties of Maritime Engineering and Marine Sciences (2012-2015) and of the Faculty of Life Sciences (2015-2017). She currently collaborates with the Dean of Research and is Director of the Laboratory of Toxicological Research and Environmental Health of ESPOL. As a researcher, she has active research projects focused on the fate, distribution and adverse effects that various inorganic, organic and emerging contaminants cause in aquatic ecosystems. She assesses environmental and human health in the Gulf of Guayaquil, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the Galapagos Islands.

Patricia Castillo-Briceno. Marine Biologist, MSc. in Aquaculture, MSc. in Technology and Research in Experimental Biomedical Sciences, PhD. in Biomedicine.

Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manabí (ULRAM), Equatorial Biome & Ocean Acidification (EBIOAC Lab).

Role in the Project: Ocean Acidification component researcher

Contact info: pat.castillobriceno@gmail.com; 00593 967971257 

Researcher and Advisor in applied animal physiology in the evaluation of the impact of climatic and environmental alterations. Marine Biologist (PUCE, Ecuador); MSc in Technology and Research in Experimental Sciences (University of Murcia, Spain); MSc in Aquaculture (ESPOL, Ecuador); PhD in Biomedicine (Universidad de Murcia, Spain). With extensive academic and research experience. Eg: at the CNRS Developmental Biology Institute – Aix-Marseille University (France); Pasteur Institute of Paris (France), University of Cambridge (UK); ESPOL (Ecuador), and ULEAM (Ecuador); and as an evaluator in international calls in higher education for the European Commission.

Other outstanding merits: IVLP's student (United States, 2017), postdoc Foundation pour la Recherche Medicale (France, 2011-2013), FPU doctoral fellow of the Ministry of Science (Spain, 2006-2010), Vice-President of the Ecuadorian Society of Biology (2020-current), Co-Founder of the Ecuadorian Network of Women Scientists REMCI (2016-current), President of OWSD-Ecuador (Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World).

Telmo de la Cuadra Frías. Oceanographer, MSc. in Environmental Sciences

Instituto Público de Investigación de Acuicultura y Pesca (IPIAP)

Role in the Project: Researcher

Contact info: tdelacuadra@gmail.com, tdelacuadra@institutopesca.gob.ec / (+593) 999878172.

Oceanographer with a master's degree in Environmental Sciences and a diploma in Indexed Insurance for Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change. He has participated in research projects related to Climate Variability and the Impacts of the warm and cold phases of the ENSO cycle on fishery resources, Adaptation to Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management in Latin America. In his role as a researcher of pelagic-coastal and bento-demersal ecosystems, he applies the fisheries ecosystem approach promoted by FAO. He has been a member of the Scientific Committee for the Regional Study of the El Niño Phenomenon (ERFEN-CPPS), Institutional Coordinator of the National Climate Program, and Institutional Delegate of the Scientific Consulting Group of the Ecuadorian Antarctic Institute (IAE). He currently works as Coordinator of the Resources, Oceanography and Climate Change Unit of the Instituto Público de Investigación de Acuicultura y Pesca (IPIAP). 

Gustavo Adolfo Domínguez CazcoBiologist, Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences.

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL).

Role in the Project:  Researcher in Microplastics component.

Contact info: gdoming@espol.edu.ec / 593 96 8246023 

Gustavo Domínguez graduated as a biologist from the Universidad de Guayaquil in 1997. He then did his doctoral studies from 2007 to 2012 at the University of South Carolina where he investigated the effects of estrogenic pollutants on fish reproduction. From 2013 to 2015 he did a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he investigated the impacts of nanoparticles on aquatic biota. In 2015, he joined the ESPOL Faculty of Life Sciences as a professor and researcher. As a teacher he has taught courses such as Toxicology, Environmental Pollution and General Ecology. Since 2019 he has been the teaching coordinator for the environmental area. Since 2018 he has been researching the impact of microplastics on aquatic organisms in the mangrove ecosystem. He has coordinated the participation of ESPOL in the Ecuadorian network of macro and microplastics in the national sampling of marine litter on beaches.

Daniel Omar Garcés León. Geological Engineer, MSc. in Territorial Planning.

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL).

Role in the Project:  Researcher  

Contact info: ogarces@espol.edu.ec 

Daniel Garcés, ESPOL geologist with a master's degree in territorial planning from the University of Santiago de Compostela. He is a professor and researcher at ESPOL, working as a teacher of geographic information systems, and has collaborated on multidisciplinary projects on hydrogeology, hydrochemistry, and groundwater isotopy. He has co-authored published papers on earthquake and tsunami geology, on natural zeolites, and on water desalination technologies.

Oceanographer, MSc. in Climate Change. Oceanógrafo, MSc. en Cambio Climático.

Instituto Público de Investigación de Acuicultura y Pesca (IPIAP)

Role in the Project:  Technical member of the group

Contact info: mhurtadodominguez@gmail.com, mhurtado@institutopesca.gob.ec / (+593) 998473778.

Oceanographer specialized in environmental sciences with a master's degree in Climate Change, in charge of the physical oceanography laboratory of the Instituto Público de Investigación de Acuicultura y Pesca. Coordination of the Climate Variability Program that consists of permanent monitoring in stations 10 miles offshore in various ports of the Ecuadorian continent. Additionally, I have been actively participating in the monitoring of the seep (natural ocean acidification) located in Roca Redonda, Galapagos, taking oceanographic, biological and specifically ocean acidification information (this project is expected to last 5 years). Involved in issues of Climate Variability, Climate Change, environmental management, oceanography for around 20 years.

Francisco Navarrete-Mier. Marine Biologist, MSc. in Aquaculture, PhD in Marine Ecology

Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manabí (ULRAM), Equatorial Biome & Ocean Acidification (EBIOAC Lab).

Role in the Project:  Researcher in Ocean Acidification component       

Contact info:  f.navarretemier@gmail.com 

Marine Biologist, MSc. in Aquaculture and PhD in Marine Ecology from the Universidad de Murcia, Spain. He has participated in multiple research projects on the environmental impacts of aquaculture and has collaborated with several laboratories in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and Ecuador. He is currently a full professor at the Faculty of Marine Sciences of the Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manabí, and co-directs the EBIOAC Equatorial Biome and Ocean Acidification research group. His research interests are focused on the ecological and behavioral alterations of native marine fauna under predicted scenarios of ocean acidification. He is also interested in the study of the development of behavioral syndromes and their relevance in aquatic ecosystems.

Paola Romero Crespo. PhD. in Mineral Resources, Energy and Environment Engineering.

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL). Facultad de Ingeniería en Ciencias de la Tierra (FICT).

Role in the Project:  Researcher in the Eutrophication and Chemical Contamination component.        

Contact info: plromero@espol.edu.ec 

At ESPOL I am a professor and I participate in some research projects, specifically in this project I contribute with my experience in water resources and hydrochemistry, in addition to planning field trips for sampling and development of fact sheets.

Priscila Estefanía Valverde Armas. Chemical Engineer, PhD. in Chemical Process Engineering..

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL).

Role in the Project:  Researcher in the Ocean Acidification component

Contact info: priesval@espol.edu.ec, +593 986781951

Professor-researcher at ESPOL, my research interests are focused on conservation of water resources, electrochemical processes applied to water treatment. This type of research is encouraged in engineering graduation projects. I am interested in continuing with the investigation of electrodeposition of metals using ionic liquid systems. I have collaborated in educational management projects and currently, as an Ecuadorian counterpart, I direct the project “CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) for Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) in Colombia and Ecuador: Norwegian initiative”. This project is carried out in collaboration with the National University of Colombia and the University of Bergen, financed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation NORAD and aims to promote sustainable oil production in the participating southern countries.2-Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) for Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) in Colombia and Ecuador: Norwegian initiative”. Este proyecto se realiza en colaboración con la Universidad Nacional de Colombia y la Universidad de Bergen, financiado por la Agencia Noruega para el Desarrollo de la Cooperación NORAD y tiene como objetivo fomentar una producción petrolera sostenible en los países del sur participantes.

Johanna Lisseth Zambrano Anchundia. Petroleum Engineer.

Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL).

Role in the Project: Communication Focal Point – Ecuador.        

Contact info: jolizamb@espol.edu.ec, +593 980193338

I currently hold the position of Laboratory Analyst at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, I work at the Petroleum and Drilling Fluids Laboratory.

Progress and Challenges

Currently in Ecuador there are several institutions working on the theme of Sustainable Development Goal 14: ESPOL: Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral; INOCAR: Navy Oceanographic Institute; INP: National Fisheries Institute, ULEAM: Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manabí.