Seminar Series

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 3:30 PM



Dr. Margaret Lowman ("Canopy Meg"), California Academy of Sciences

Using Canopy Science as a "Hook" to Conserve Forests

Despite the efforts of hundreds of scientists, thousands of conservationists, and millions of research dollars, tropical rain forests have degraded significantly in the last few decades. In short, scientific research findings have not led to effective reversal of deforestation, despite extensive data collection. How can we re-invent our research process and metrics to insure sustainable outcomes that lead to effective conservation? In this talk, I will review the history of canopy science, a relatively young field catalyzed by single rope techniques (SRT), hot air balloons, and canopy walkway construction in the 1980s. These methods led to the discovery of millions of new species, and allowed scientists to scale up to a whole-forest research approach (not just a focus on the understory). This new frontier (or “eighth continent” as EO Wilson calls it) also inspires citizens as well as policy-makers to appreciate their forests and has incentivized conservation. I will provide case studies where forest canopy research has served as a hook that: 1.engaged diverse stakeholders to conserve their forests, 2. inspired students including girls and minorities to seek careers in STEM, and 3. catalyzed our knowledge about important forest concepts such as carbon storage, pollination, ethnobotany, herbivory, and species diversity.

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