Conservation Research

Supporting conservation-related research at Reserva Las Gralarias is one of the core goals of the Las Gralarias Foundation. While projects are diverse, they all share a common goal of enhancing knowledge and conservation of the species who inhabit this sensitive cloud forest ecosystem.

Pristimantis Mutabilis

The shape-shifting Punkrocker Frog

Many projects have resulted in exciting discoveries of new species. These include the Las Gralarias Glassfrog, Nymphargus lasgralarias (Hutter and Guayasamin 2012), the famous shape-shifting frog affectionately nick-named “The Punkrocker,” Pristimantis mutabilis (Guayasamin et al 2015), and two moth species, Hynhamia lasgralariae and Dimorphopalpa lyonsae, one named for the preserve and the other for RLG owner Jane Lyons (Razowski and Pelz 2007).

Other projects have helped expand knowledge about the ecosystem of Reserva Las Gralarias. We have teamed up with Professor Eric Snyder and students enrolled in his Tropical Ecology and Conservation course offered at Michigan’s Grand Valley State University (USA) in an on-going, bi-annual study to conduct long-term water quality monitoring and aquatic invertebrate surveys.

GVSU students in Study Abroad program

Students from Grand Valley State University participating in the Study Abroad program

Additionally, staff from Ecuador’s National Herbarium have surveyed the plant communities at RLG, discovering the critically endangered Podandrogyne brevipedunculata in relative high abundance at the reserve.

A multitude of behavioral studies of RLG fauna have been completed as well, including the courtship behaviors of an endangered glassfrog, Centrolene peristictum (Dautel et al 2011), the nest-building behavior of the Yellow-breasted Antpitta (nest found by RLG’s very own Segundo Imba and described by Greeney et al 2010), and the nocturnal behavior of mammals (Bartzke et al 2008; see the trail camera gallery for photos).

At the reserve, we have hosted numerous graduate students working on various projects, and the list below attests to the variety of studies the foundation has supported:

  • faunal use of tank bromeliads (Lui et al 2010: The University of Leeds)
  • surveys of butterflies (Kell 2010: Universidad de Catolica, Quito)
  • the role of parental care in larval glassfrog survival, development, and the skin-associated microbiome (Delia et al 2014: Boston University)
  • hummingbird behavior (Noble 2010: The University of Leeds)
  • measuring energy subsidies of stream communities using stable isotopes (Harris 2015: Grand Valley State University)

Those interested in conducting conservation-based research at RLG should contact Dr. Katherine Krynak at for application materials and general information regarding required permits.


J. Guayasamin, T. Krynak, K. Krynak, J. Garcia, and C. Hutter. (2015) Phenotypic plasticity raises questions for taxonomically important traits: a remarkable new Andean rainfrog (Pristimantis) with the ability to change skin texture. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.  174(4):913-928. DOI:10.1111/zoj.12222

Kerbs (2015) Xanthosoma undipes (Araceae) as a food source for Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus notabilis) and Orange-bellied Euphonia (Euphonia xanthogaster) in Northwest Ecuador.  Ornitología Neotropical 26.

Guayasamin, J. M., Mendoza, A. M., Longo, A. V., Zamudio, K. R., Bonaccorso, E. (2014). High Prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in an Andean frog Community (Reserva Las Gralarias, Ecuador). Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, 8(1), 33-44

Hutter, C., Esobar-Lasso, S., Rojas-Morales, JA., Gutierrez-Cardenas, P, Imba, H, Guayasamin, JM. (2013) The territoriality, vocalizations and aggressive interactions of the red-spotted glassfrog, Nymphargus grandisonae, Cochran and Goin, 1970 (Anura: Centrolenidae). Journal of Natural History.

Palacios, M. (2013) Applications of geographic information systems and remote sensing techniques to conservation of amphibian habitats in Northwestern Ecuador.  Thesis for MSc.  Universidad Tecnológica Iberoamericana.

Coloma et al (2012) Molecular phylogenetics of stream treefrogs of the Hyloscirtus larinopygion group (Anura: Hylidae), and description of two new species from Ecuador. Zootaxa 3364:1-78.

Weinstein (2012) Evaluate the Phylogenetic and Morphological Diversity of the Hummingbird Community: How does this diversity change over the elevation gradient?  Project Report.

Hutter, C. and Guayasamin J.M. (2012) A new cryptic species of glassfrog (Centrolenidae: Nymphargus) from Reserva Las Gralarias, Ecuador. Zootaxa 3257, 1-21.

Daute et. al. (2012) Advertisement and combat calls of the glass frog Centrolene peristictum (Anura: Centrolenidae), with notes on combat and reproductive behaviors. Phyllomedusa 10(1): 31-43

Salgado Maldonado, A. (2012) Cuidado parental y selección sexual en Centrolene peristictum (Anura: Centrolenidae). BS Thesis

Lui V., and Lyons, J. (2012) Notes on the feeding activity and diet of the Blue-fronted Parrotlet (Touit dilectissima) in north-west Ecuador. BoltetÍn SAO Vol. 21

Noble, E. (2011) The Effect of Resource Quality and Abundance On The Behaviour Of A Hummingbird Guild In The Cloud Forests Of Ecuador. Thesis for MSc. Leeds University.

Krynak, T. (2011) Natural History Note: Liophus epinephelus. Herpetological Review 42(4).

Liu, V. (2010) Colonisation and structure of faunal communities in epiphytic tank bromeliads in Ecuador: An experimental assessment of the roles of water volume and surface area. Masters of Science Thesis. The University of Leeds.

Greeney, Juiña, Imba, and Lyons (2009) First nest description of the Yellow-breasted Antpitta Grallaria flavotincta in north-west Ecuador.  boc1294-091117-ind:BOC Bulletin.qxd

Bartzke, G. (2008) Results of Mammal Study. Thesis for MSc.   The University of Leeds.

Razowski, J. and Pelz, V. (2007), Polskie Pismo Entomologiczne 76: 21-40

Lyons, J. (2003) Aves de la Reserva Las Gralarias, Mindo, Ecuador.

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