CAVELab Projects: Consolidating a long-term forest monitoring network in a human modified landscape in Northern Ecuador (COFOREC)


Project Summary

Our goal is to consolidate a forest plot network as sites for long-term ecological research to investigate diversity and ecosystem functioning in natural and reforested areas along a large environmental gradient in a highly diverse strongly anthropogenic tropical landscape. The project takes place in the north-western slopes of the Andes of Ecuador, in an area that includes the Andes Chocó Biosphere Reserve, along an elevation gradient that ranges from 300 to 3000 m above sea level.

COFOREC I (2019-2020) & COFOREC II (2020-2021) are two consecutive VLIRUOS South Initiatives

Key partners:


  • Seven Belgian and Ecuadorian students have conducted short-term research within this project.
  • The project has monitoring data of 20 permanent plots in natural forest, and 150 monitoring plots in reforested areas
  • Two field courses were organized under the umbrella of this project: Diversity and ecosystem functioning of tropical montane forests, in October 2018, and Diversity of aquatic fauna in montane forest environments, in August 2019

Publications and thesis developed under the project

Thesis: Van den Meerssche, Sebastiaan, Marijn Bauters, and Hans Verbeeck. Carbon Storage On an Elevational Gradient On the West Side of the Andes (ecuador). 2020.

Thesis: Bommarez, Tine, Marijn Bauters, and Hans Verbeeck. Functional Diversity In Natural Forests Along an Elevational Transect In Northern Ecuador. 2020.

Thesis: Lamprea Pineda, Paula Alejandra, Pascal Boeckx, and Hans Verbeeck. Greenhouse Gas Fluxes From Tropical Forest Soils Along an Altitudinal Gradient In the Northern Ecuadorean Andes. 2019.

Thesis: Van Impe, Jens, Stijn Speelman, and Hans Verbeeck. Incentives for Private Reforestation In the Mindo Region, Ecuador. 2019.

Thesis: Pauwels, Jana, Marijn Bauters, and Hans Verbeeck. Photosynthesis Characteristics of Trees and Lianas Along an Altitudinal Gradient In Ecuador. 2019.

Publication: Bauters, Marijn, et al. “Parallel Functional and Stoichiometric Trait Shifts in South American and African Forest Communities with Elevation.” BIOGEOSCIENCES, vol. 14, no. 23, 2017, pp. 5313–21.

Photos of field work

see photo album

UGent Promotor

Hans Verbeeck

Prof. dr. ir. Hans Verbeeck (UGent)
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Local Promotor


Prof. dr. ir. Selene Baez (EPN)

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Key collaborators

Marijn Bauters

dr. ir. Marijn Bauters (UGent)

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dr. Xavier Haro-Carrión (Macalester College)

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dr. Susana León-Yánez (Univeridad Católica del Ecuador)

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Mike Perring

dr. ir. Michael Perring (UGent)

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Ximena Palomeque (local co-PI)

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Franklin Marin (PhD student)

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Eva Tamargo