Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability

to which extent do genetically and ecologically divergent populations of the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) are reproductively isolated, and which traits play a role in such a process?

Jonathas Pereira

working on detecting the ecological and evolutionary patterns in crocodilians of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the neotropics using climatic, geologic, genetic and morphological approaches


- José Avila

how do populations of invasive fish in the Panama canal differ from populations from their native range, and how do they modify the freshwater ecosystem of the Canal?


- Marisol Valverde

using satellite imagery and modelling to detect the ecological implications of hydrologic dams on a population of vulnerable West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus).


- Victoria Reed

how does the evolutionary history of dart frog species (Dendrobatidae) influence the infection and prevalence of the fungal infection, Chytridiomycosis? 


Brandon Varela


What is BESS?


Environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented rate, raising concerns about the conservation of biodiversity (B), the maintenance of ecosystem services (ES), and the future of sustainability (S) — BESS. These concerns are especially pressing in tropical environments, where most of the world's biodiversity and humans reside and interact.

BESS provides a multidisciplinary and immersive training experience to help prepare the next generation of environmental scientists to work with industry, environmental consulting firms, governments, NGOs, and universities. BESS training provides students with skills in environmental monitoring, biodiversity surveying, ecological impact assessment, mitigation strategies, the design of restoration projects, statistical analysis, adaptive forest and agricultural management, and mathematical modeling for predictive and prescriptive planning.

The BESS program has a strong multidisciplinary component and a diverse group of researchers and collaborators — Quebec universities, Canadian companies working in Panama, and several Panamanian institutions, particularly the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute — who administer and supervise complementary courses, an internship rotation, and thesis research. BESS also provides students with an immersive experience through courses and internships in Panama.

BESS graduates will be equipped with the practical skills, real-world experience, and interdisciplinary knowledge they need to substantially improve environmental knowledge for a broad range of Canadian interests in Latin America, the tropics, and in Canada itself.

Funding provided by                   

NSERC/CRSNG     McGill University       UQAM          U. Laval         STRI