Research Overview

dji00144.jpg__707x360_q85_crop.jpgThe Charles Darwin Research Station, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz - the operating arm of CDF

The Charles Darwin Foundation’s (CDF) research projects are based on a long-term set of conservation priorities coordinated with the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD)  and officially approved and monitored by the CDF’s Board of Directors. Our work focuses on three areas: Invasive Species, Sustainability and Conservation Management.

Invasive species

Invasive species are the number one threat to Galapagos ecosystems and biodiversity. Over the last 20 years there has been a constant increase in visitors, goods, boats and airplanes arriving to the islands. In addition, inter-island mobility between inhabited and/or uninhabited islands has increased the risk of arrival, spread and establishment of exotic and potentially invasive species. Key problem areas are invertebrates (ants, flies, mosquitoes), vertebrates (mammals and birds), plants and marine invasive species.

male_philornis_fly__charles_darwin_foundation.jpg__707x360_q85_crop.jpgThe invasive Philornis downsi fly

Charles Darwin Foundation scientists work closely with local institutions specializing in the regulation, control and management of invasive species. Our team provides partners with scientific knowledge to understand and overcome the most serious of threats. Click on the following links to find out more about our research in this area:


Economic growth in Galapagos is estimated to be close to 20% per annum (CI, 2014, matriz de compatibilidad social). The main sectors of activity are tourism, fishing, agriculture and construction. These activities are being developed under the framework of the new Ecuadorian constitution that includes the concept of the “rights of nature” and a national plan for Good Living (“buen vivir” in Spanish).

gv_verde_2.jpg__707x360_q85_crop_subject_location-3438,666.jpgGalapagos Verde 2050 scientists are restoring ecoystems with native plants

As scientific advisor to the Ecuadorian Government, the CDF is focused on developing research which aims to better understand the impacts of economic driven activities on Galapagos ecosystems. The Charles Darwin Foundation provides our partners with scientific information on topics such as sustainable fisheries, agriculture and ecological restoration programs.

Click on the following links to find out more about our research in this area:

flightless_cormorant_monitoring.png__707x360_q85_crop_subject_location-1005,539.jpgCDF scientist monitoring species populations such as flightless cormorants

Conservation Management

We aim to support the Galapagos National Park’s need for information to carry out conservation management within the protected areas of Galapagos (encompassing both the National Park and the Marine Reserve). Our research is centered on three programs within this area:

(a) Protection of endangered species with a current focus on understanding and reducing the threats affecting small land birds in Galapagos:

(b) Monitoring of emblematic and vulnerable species in Galapagos:

  • Shark research
  • Marine turtles, penguins and flightless cormorant research
  • Marine subtidal communities project

(c) Innovation tools to develop conservation applications.

Find out more

The Charles Darwin Research Station’s library and Galapagos natural history collections offer a wealth of resources. Our Datazone online data and results portal is free and available for everyone. All our research projects incorporate education activities for the local community.

We also keep our national and international followers engaged in our work via the CDF news blog, e-newsletter and Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn pages.