Knowles plans trip to Ecuador research station

Daniel Purves, Staff Writer

Associate Professor of Biology Travis Knowles is planning to take a group of students to Ecuador, where Francis Marion University is building a research station.

“The potential for finding new species is very high,” Knowles said. “Only a fraction of life on Earth is known. We have barely started the age of discovery.”

The research station, which is a joint venture between FMU and the University of North Carolina, will be an extension to Wildsumaco, an existing wildlife sanctuary.

There are very few economic opportunities available for locals, which has lead to the destruction of the forest as logging takes places – something which the locals can’t be blamed for, Knowles said.

Those in charge of the project have taken this into account, designing it with education, conservation and the people in mind. It is hoped jobs, such as cooks and tour guides will be created with the expansion of Wildsumaco.

“If people don’t get benefit from the research station, it is doomed to fail,” Knowles said.

FMU has already been conducting research at the site ahead of the centre being built, with camera traps photographing a wide variety of creatures, including a puma.

The two and a half week trip will allow students to conduct their own research, which they will present once they have returned to America. The trip is scheduled to take place in the summer and is estimated to cost $1500 – $1700, with spaces still available for students to attend.