Black-breasted puffleg habitat conservation in Ecuador: Promoting local participation

Fernanda Coello

The black-breasted puffleg is the most endangered endemic hummingbird in Ecuador. Its habitat, the High Andean montane forest at Pichincha Volcano, is rapidly disappearing due to human activities such as charcoal production and conversion to cattle pasture. Recent efforts to study this species have been difficult and produced a worryingly low number of observations. The ecosystem where the bird dwells provides important services to surrounding human settlements such as water production, landslide prevention and air purification. Our project aims to reduce the ongoing habitat loss at one of the most critical locations for this species in north-western Ecuador, through increasing the efficiency of existing pasture for cattle and decreasing forest conversion. Furthermore we will conduct awareness activities on issues that directly affect pufflegs’ habitat such as forest fires and logging for charcoal production. Since little is known about the species’ ecological traits, our project will address research on the feeding ecology of the puffleg and will look for local participation in research activities, especially among youngsters. This will build local capacities to ensure long-term monitoring. We will also test plant propagation techniques to aid with habitat recovery at priority locations used by the black-breasted puffleg.