Forest Canopy Biology

The canopy is one of the last biological frontiers and contains an extraordinarily diverse array of species. For example, a single tree in Amazonian Peru may contain more than 40 species of ants, which is about equal to the species diversity of ants in all the British Isles .

Until recently, this frontier was nearly inaccessible to researchers. STRI pioneered the use of construction cranes to study the flora and fauna of the canopy, which literally opened new vistas, and today researchers can reach the canopy with no more difficulty than riding an elevator. These cranes attract scientists from around the world to study different aspects of canopy biology, including the exchange of gases between the canopy and the atmosphere; the intricate physiological responses of canopy trees to light, humidity, water-stress, and other climate-related factors; plant-insect interactions, such as the pollination of canopy trees by bees, bats and other animals, or the degree of diet restriction (specialization) by leaf-eating insects. These scientists are also measuring the surfaces of leaves to check the validity of information on the physiological state of forests recorded by satellite for the  LinkNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the  LinkNational Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Other researchers are attempting to document the species diversity of rainforest canopy insects.

 

Staff scientists researching Forest Canopy