The Center for Canopy Ecology is focused on canopy biodiversity and processes in plant communities and includes up-to-date access methods, research protocols, conferences and symposia, publications, curriculum development, and public education. The center’s motto is "Discovery and Opportunity in the Treetops" or "Inventio opportunitasque in summis arborum."
Scientists have called the upper strata of temperate and tropical forests the high frontier, the roof of the world, and the eighth continent. Field-researchers have long craned their heads skyward and wondered about the vast mass of photosynthetically active foliage and biomass that make up the tree crowns. Treetop research has exploded in the last decade with the establishment of hundreds of field-sites and the development of canopy walkways, platforms, towers, cranes, rope systems, and airships that grant relatively easy access to researchers, educators, and students.
Although scientists are just beginning to comprehend the amazing complexity and richness of forest canopies, it is clear that forest canopies harbor the greatest biodiversity of any habitat in the world. In a sense, forests are great stands of lollipops with sugars and flavors high off the ground. Thus, most of the organisms that are dependent upon those nutrients are also high off the ground. All this leads
us to a simple question: How can canopy research be used in the face of
monumental ecological troubles facing our planet such as species
declines, human overpopulation, and habitat fragmentation?
Canopy research is crucial for conservation. It is also crucial for the education of students young and old. Students are interested in treetop studies because important contributions can be made more easily than in already-established scientific fields, and the process of reaching the canopy is so exciting! The forest canopy is an ideal laboratory for collaboration among scientists, educators, and students desperate to make a difference. In short, canopy research – married to science education – provides an invaluable opportunity to further awareness of ecological issues and supports successful conservation efforts.