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Charismatic megaflora of the Amazon rainforest

[fa icon="calendar'] May 22, 2017 9:46:34 AM / by Varun Swamy posted in Tambopata Research Center, wildlife photography, Posada Amazonas, Shihuahuaco, Ceiba, Brazilnut, Aerobotany, Refugio Amazonas, Buttresses, Canopy, Megaflora

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Mention the words "Amazon rainforest" to the layperson, and it is likely that the first creatures that spring to their minds are jaguars, caimans, giant river otters, spider monkeys or scarlet macaws….large, colorful, striking animals, some easily sighted and others far more elusive. Other folk might associate the rainforest with the ubiquitous "bugs" that it teems with – hundreds of thousands of species of myriad forms and adaptations, with a sizeable fraction still unknown to science and waiting to be discovered.  

But to me (and others of a more botanically inclined ilk), the Amazon rainforest is defined by its charismatic megaflora: the trees that form its canopy and the very basis of the ecosystem, allowing for the existence of the staggering diversity of other life forms.

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The boom-and-bust rainforest

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 29, 2017 12:57:33 AM / by Varun Swamy posted in rainforest fruits, keystone species, frugivores, seasonality, phenology, Aerobotany, Megaflora

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With gusting winds and a sharp plunge in temperature, the first friaje of 2017 arrived earlier this week in Puerto Maldonado, signaling the official transition from wet to dry weather in Tambopata and across the Madre de Dios basin. Rainforest denizens definitely took note, for the wet-to-dry season transition also signals a pronounced shift in their day-to-day lives – a switch from "boom" to "bust" times.

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The Amazon is Wired: Citizen Science is plugged in and chugging along at Rainforest Expeditions

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 22, 2017 7:16:36 AM / by Varun Swamy posted in Aerobotany, AmazonCam Tambopata, Wired Amazon, Discover a new species, Citizen science

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 What a difference a year makes! In February last year, a group of us got together at Refugio Amazonas to envision and create a pioneering collaboration between science and ecotourism, that blended field research with cutting-edge technology and crowd-sourced data collection via “citizen” scientists. It was during the initial brainstorming sessions that terms such as Wired Amazon, Aerobotany and Big Grid were cooked up, fueled by our collective imaginations and an ample measure of day-dreaming as well. A year later, Wired Amazon is a vibrant reality: we have successfully taken botany to the skies, opened more than 200 kilometers of trails and installed over a 100 remotely-triggered cameras on the ground and up in the canopy, and – with the enthusiastic collaboration of visitors from all over the world – discovered 8 new species of insects.

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