S e e d s   t o   M o n k e y s   t o   B e e t l e s

Everyone complains about the heat and humidity of the rainforest, but usually not Ellen Andresen. She likes the humidity. “I grew up in Lima, Peru”, she says, “and it is always hot and humid there.” Even though the city is in the middle of the desert, a quirk of the local geography keeps it very humid most of the year. Ellen has followed her love of this weather by spending time in Peruvian rainforests, as well as North Carolina, Florida, and now the Amazon.

After graduating from university in Peru, Ellen went for her Master’s degree in North Carolina. Her research project there involved work in a rainforest much closer to home, back in Peru. She spent time in Peru’s Manu rainforest, where she studied the role of monkeys as seed dispersers. “Manu was very difficult, but very beautiful.” The trip to her research site in Manu required a four-day boat trip, where she was dropped off with nothing but her personal gear, a radio, and enough rice, beans, and tinned food for four months. If something happened, she could radio for help, but otherwise, she expected to be in the forest for the whole time.

Peru’s other famous jungle is near Machu Picchu, but Ellen explains why she didn’t do her research there. “Unlike Manu, or the Amazon, Machu Picchu is what is called a cloud forest, not a rainforest. The difference is the altitude; Machu Picchu is located much higher than a typical rainforest, and so clouds sit in and around the region all the time. The differences in the altitude, amount of sunlight and amount of rain mean that there are completely different types of species there than are found in the rain forest.”

Ellen’s Interview/Journals Seeds to Monkeys to Beetles    1     2     3     4