From November 11th till 16th 2019, I went to south-western Ecuador (Azuay Province) to collect the wild retaliative of the only domesticated south American palm Bactris gasipaes or Chonta. The wild relative, known locally as Chontilla (variety chichagui), grows naturally along the western coast and Andes of Ecuador. In the southern part it grows in the drier regions, and the cultivated variety is absent. The wild type is characterized by small rounded fruits (in contrast to the domesticated on with large oval fruits, a clear domestication syndrome). The southern part of western Ecuador has suffered tremendous deforestation and finding small pockets of forests is very challenging, not just because they are rare, but the ones that do exist are generally places where humans cannot access easily... that is steep slopes! It is icredible that there are hardly no forests reserves there a special mention is Jocotoco Buenaventura reserve, wow, it is great and some great forests there, in addition to birds http://jocotoursecuador.com/destination/buenaventura-reserve/).
Thomas Couvreur, researcher in tropical biodiversity evolution