• Sharona Shnayder

ALBO, UDLA & WWF COLLABORATE TO DEVELOP HABITAT SUITABILITY MODELS FOR THREATENED AMAZONIAN FISH

Israeli Climate-Tech startup Albo Climate joins UDLA and WWF in a collaboration to develop habitat suitability models for river fish in the Amazon, based on AI and satellite technology.


Tel Aviv, Israel, & Quito, Ecuador, August 13th, 2022 – Albo Climate and UDLA (Universidad de Las Américas) in conjunction with the world’s leading conservation organization, WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) announce an international initiative to develop a habitat suitability model for threatened river fish in the Ecuadorian Amazon.


Sunset at the Bobonaza River, Achuar Nationality Territory, Ecuador. Photo by Ivy Yin for UDLA-WWF


Habitat degradation and loss from deforestation, infrastructure developments such as dams, degradative activities such as mining, pollution and overfishing are causing profound migration route shifts for endemic species that require urgent conservation initiatives at the landscape scale. Threatened species include a variety of catfish, including the Golden Zebra Catfish and the Tiger Catfish.


El Coca Market, Ecuador, with "Pintadillos" (Pseudoplatystoma spp) Catfish on Sale. Photo by Jose Vicente Montoya for UDLA-WWF


In order to track habitat and river flooding changes impacting the fish, Albo Climate and UDLA are developing a series of spatial maps powered by high resolution satellite imagery and next-generation Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. In total, the parties will produce 16 high-resolution maps, at 10-m resolution, four per-year, for the period 2018 to 2021. The maps will be used to determine the likelihood of an area to be flooded, on a per-pixel level, and show flooded areas for the entire Ecuadorian Amazon region for that time span. Likewise, the maps will be used to derive landscape connectivity metrics at different hydrological regimes and from forest cover maps (e.g., Hansen et al. 2013) and determine the amount of habitat that has been converted to other land-uses.



Identifying flooded areas from satellite imagery using AI; Source: Albo Climate


The maps will subsequently be used to inform conservation planning by WWF-Ecuador, which aims to protect key pathways to maintain habitat connectivity for river fish migrating from the Peruvian and Colombian Amazon towards the heads of river watersheds in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

“Changes in river flooding cause significant shifts in the migration routes of native fish populations. As a result, these fishes need to travel longer distances to their breeding grounds, and in some cases their routes are completely blocked or polluted by human induced land-use activities,” says Marco Calderon, CTO at Albo Climate. Moreover, negative impacts on river fish has a knock-on effect on the entire food chain ecosystem at large, and can even affect the health of human populations who consume them and become exposed to the contaminants the fish encounter along their migration routes.

The more precisely migratory routes can be identified and protected, the higher the likelihood that river fish migrating from the peruvian Amazon towards watersheds in the Ecuadorian Amazon can avoid further migratory challenges.

“It is advantageous that ALBO has a mid-term and long-term relationship with the UDLA academia and international NGO WWF to produce such a scientific product that can be applied to conservation policy and action in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth,” stated Deputy Scientific Director at the Universidad de Las Américas and Albo Scientific Advisor, Francisco Cuesta.

The final maps will provide important public and environmental benefits by enabling stakeholders to develop and implement targeted conservation and restoration activities to maintain and recover the habitat of keystone species of the freshwater ecosystems of the Ecuadorian Amazon.


About Albo Climate:

Albo Climate, established in 2019, is an Israel-based startup applying AI to satellite imagery to map, measure, and monitor carbon sequestration and scale-up carbon removal from Nature Based Projects. Combining geospatial monitoring and deep learning expertise, Albo Climate is developing remote sensing solutions for carbon credit verification in various ecosystems, including forestry and agriculture.


About UDLA:

The Dean's Office for Research and Outreach at the University of the Americas is made up of eight research groups containing more than 70 researchers in the areas of health sciences, biodiversity, psychology, bioinformatics, veterinary medicine, microbiology, and economics. In the area of biodiversity, the university focuses on the generation of applied research focused on filling gaps and knowledge needs that support sustainable development and the design of public policies.

About WWF:

WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations helping people and nature thrive. WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment, and combat the climate crisis.

CONTACT PERSONS:

Ariella Charny, COO of Albo Climate, ariella.charny@albosys.com

Dr. Marco Calderón, CTO of Albo Climate, marco.calderon@albosys.com

Dr. Francisco Cuesta, Deputy Director of Research at UDLA and Scientific Advisor to Albo Climate, francisco.cuesta@udla.edu.ec



48 views1 comment