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Gersey Vargas

Gersey Vargas Rivera
Gersey Vargas is a PhD researcher that is addressing questions related to the impact of horse grazing on grassland restoration through its insect and plant communities. He is passionate about biodiversity focusing on various taxonomic groups such as insects, birds, plants and mammals. Previously living in diverse countries for work and studies (USA, Colombia, Panama, Belgium, Sri Lanka, Italy and Paraguay), Gersey is now dedicated to learning more about Swedish biodiversity.


Biodiversity has always been a topic of interest for Gersey. He has always loved all wildlife species, but he became obsessed with insects as his research focus while simultaneously doing his undergraduate thesis with fig wasps and an internship with ants in Colombia. After that he was granted an internship in Panama working with Dynastinae beetles and later working with butterflies during his master's thesis. Then, he worked as the museum curator in the second largest zoological collection in Paraguay, working with a wide range of taxa. Thanks to this taxonomically diverse research, Gersey now wants to focus more on community level research to understand more about how different taxonomical groups interact and coexist in applied ecological research targeting biodiversity conservation.       


He has been a guest lecturer for schools and education centers talking about topics related to biodiversity to children and general public audiences in English, Spanish, and Italian.


The precise research project of his PhD is still underconstruction, but Gersey would like to focus on applied research topics that are of interest to stakeholders involved in grassland restoration and can aid in decision-making. 


2024-ongoing: PhD researcher in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE.

2022-2023: Museum curator and taxonomist. Fundación Para La Tierra, PY. Responsible for the second largest zoological collection of Paraguay.  

2019-2021: MSc., TROPIMUNDO – Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems. Université Libre de Bruxelles/Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), University of Ruhuna  (Sri Lanka), Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy).
Thesis: Remote, but connected: The COxI haplotypes of five widespread butterflies of the remote Azores archipelago. 

2018: Research Intern. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, PA. 
Research topic: Delineation of functional groups within the Panamanian Dynastinae species based on morphological and ecological characteristics.  

2017: Biologist Assistant. Pontificia Univeridad Javeriana Cali & Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca, CO. 
Research topic: Evaluation of the tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva) populations and the problematics they cause for the elaboration of its management and control plan for the Valle del Cauca in Colombia.  

2013-2017: BSc., Biology. Pontifical Universidad Javeriana. Santiago de Cali, CO. 
Thesis: Evaluation of two factors that may limit the capacity of the pollinating fig-wasp Pegoscapus bacataensis to lay eggs in the flowers of Ficus andicola


During my work as museum curator I supervised three interns on their research projects:

Giovanni Mussini -identification of aquatic macroinvertebrates collected from Pilar (Paraguay) during 2021-2023 for creating a local fieldguide. 

Nicole Stepan - wetland butterfly diversity contrasting disturbed and undisturbed habitats.

Thomas Laffoon - the impact of cattle presence on burrowing owl behavior.  

Selected publications

Mussini, G., Stepan, N. D. and Vargas, G. 2024. Two new species of Hyalella (Amphipoda, Dogielinotidae) from the Humid Chaco ecoregion of Paraguay. ZooKeys 1191: 105-127.

Basset, Y., Blažek, P., Souto-Vilarós, D., Vargas, G., Ramírez Silva, J.A., Barrios, H., Perez, F., Bobadilla, R., Lopez, Y., Ctvrtecka, R. and Šípek, P., 2022. Towards a functional classification of poorly known tropical insects: The case of rhinoceros beetles (Coleoptera, Dynastinae) in Panama. Insect Conservation and Diversity. 1-17.