Dr. Varun Swamy is a tropical forest ecologist with over 14 years of experience conducting ecological research in the lowland rainforests of the Madre de Dios River Basin in the Peruvian Amazon. A native of India, he spent 19 years in the United States, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Connecticut College, and a Ph.D. from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, specializing in tropical forest ecology. His first visit to Peru and Madre de Dios was in 2003 to begin his doctoral dissertation research, and he has returned to Peru every year since. Dr. Swamy is currently a Research Fellow at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and lives in the city of Puerto Maldonado.
Dr. Swamy’s research examines the long-term influence of plant-animal interactions on the composition, diversity and structure of the plant community in lowland Amazon forests, particularly the role of large native vertebrates such as spider monkeys, tapirs and white-lipped peccaries. The overall goal of his research is to provide a rigorous ecological evaluation of the long-term impacts of anthropogenic influences on the composition and structure of Amazonian forests, which will benefit conservation, restoration and management efforts directed towards these ecosystems.
More recently, Varun has become fascinated by citizen science and begun exploring its enormous potential towards collecting valuable data for long-term research and conservation projects. Through the Aerobotany project, he hopes to prove that data gathered by online citizen scientists can significantly improve our understanding of the biological rhythms and life cycles of rainforest trees, and help monitor and protect these invaluable rainforest ecosystems in the long term.
Learn more about Varun:
- Research Website
- Curriculum Vitae
- Research video abstract
- Google Scholar profile
- Research Gate profile
- Amazon Aerobotany – drones and online citizen science
- Wired Amazon – a pioneering citizen science collaboration with Rainforest Expeditions
- Tales from the Rainforest – popular science articles on rainforest ecology