First Experience in the Amazon with Conservation Fellows Program


Ethan Scott Duvall

Conservation Fellow

I am an ecologist with particular interests in ornithology (birds) and biogeochemistry (nutrient cycling). Broadly speaking, my research examines wildlife responses to anthropogenic change and subsequent impacts on ecosystems. My PhD research focuses on the interactions between animals and the chemistry of their environments. I am currently a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Cornell University. I received my BS in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Terrestrial Ecology from Western Washington University. Prior to my PhD, I worked as a GIS Lead for Cascade Water Alliance, a municipal water supply corporation in the Puget Sound region.

I have worked various outdoor jobs in the past, and find much of my inspiration out in the field. I grew up in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State and will always call the Pacific Northwest home.

Learn more about Ethan Scott Duvall

March 31, 2022

First Experience in the Amazon with Conservation Fellows Program


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Experiencing the Amazon rainforest was always something that I looked forward to. It was never a matter of if I would pursue research in the Amazon, but rather when I would begin. A frontier of biological diversity, the Amazon has excited me since I was young, and knowledge of its destruction set me on a clear path towards research and conservation. 

In January of 2022, I was able to actuate these pursuits and begin tropical research alongside the ACEER fellows program and One Planet on a month-long expedition to Sucusari, Loreto, Peru. I had little knowledge of ACEER prior to the expedition. As a PhD student studying ecology and biogeochemistry at Cornell University, I joined the expedition in a collaborative effort to study mineral licks relating to my dissertation work on nutrient cycling in the Amazon. Despite my unfamiliarity with the team, ACEER quickly became family, and left me with unforgettable memories, new skills, and long-lasting friendships.

I will never forget the moment we turned up the Sucusari River, the rainforest crowding over me for the first time, and the beginning of an incredible journey. For three weeks, our group collected soil samples from over 85 mineral licks throughout the Sucusari Basin, led by the Maijuna whose knowledge of the ecosystem was critical to our research. The expedition was everything you could ask for; productive, educating, and full of discovery. Hiking around the jungle morning to nightfall – there is no better introduction to the Amazon. 

While our expedition was certainly a success, the real work is still to come. Using the soil samples we collected, we will begin to explain the unique interactions between animals and mineral licks in the Amazon. However, the importance of these interactions for the maintenance and functioning of the rainforest remain largely unstudied, and may be critical to informing impacts of biodiversity loss and forest restoration for the future. Needless to say, my Amazon pursuits have only just begun!


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