PROGRAM TITLE:	Temperate and Tropical Forest Canopy Biology
ACTIVITY STREAM:	Process Studies
SCIENCE ELEMENT:	Ecological Systems and Dynamics

Tropical Research Institute

SCIENTIFIC MERIT:  Understanding the dynamics of forest ecosystems is 
essential to the success of the U.S. Global Change Program.  However, forest 
canopy research is seriously hindered by the difficulty of routine access.  The 
Smithsonian Institution plans to add to its successful operation of a crane in 
Panama that studies tropical canopy ecology with similar equipment at the 
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland.  Both programs 
will allow direct comparison of tropical and temperate forest with regard to 
important global change processes.  Each crane would allow scientists access to 
5 acres of canopy, and a horizontal jib would be able to move a research 
gondola with loads of up to a ton, and lower it to any elevation.  Gondola 
location can be located within x-y-z coordinates, and in such a manner, day 
and night research could be performed.  The research would include such 
varied items as chambers for maintaining altered atmospheric composition 
around tree branches, and micrometeorological instruments for calculations 
of turbulent canopy/atmospheric gas exchanges.
The research facility in Maryland would be modeled after that in Panama, and 
operated as a resource for visiting scientists, as much as with a telescope or 
submarine.  Support personnel would be available to handle scheduling and 
continuous operation.  Dual cranes would permit for the first time, detailed 
studies of gas-exchange processes in the temperate and tropical forest 
canopies, one of the most important global interfaces between the biosphere 
and atmosphere.
STAKEHOLDERS:  The activities of this program are closely related to the 
objectives of the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems projects of the 
IGBP.  The United Nations Environment Program has expressed strong 
interest in collaborating with the program in Panama. SERC is cooperating 
with NOAA scientists from the Atmospheric Resources laboratory in the 
micrometeorological aspects of the study.  The development and operation of 
the tidal marsh CO2 enrichment chambers was funded by DOE.  Plant 
physiology at STRI has been done in conjunction with USDA/USFS.
POLICY RELEVANCE:  The research conducted with these facilities will 
contribute broadly to three of the integrating themes of the global change 
program: global water and energy, global carbon cycle, and ecological systems 
and population dynamics.  In particular, the role of forest ecosystems as 
governing regional fluxes of CH4, CO2, SO2, and N2O will be studied, 
especially the role of plant mechanisms that fix CO2.  Interannual correlations 
between ecosystem processes and climatic variables in both forest sites 
contributes to the study of ecological systems and population dynamics.  
Overall, the question of sensitivity of forest species to climatic variability is 
the primary driver of this research.
SI SGCR Representative:	Ted A. Maxwell
		NASM MRC 315
		Smithsonian Institution
		Washington, D.C.  20560
		202 357 1424
		FAX:  202 786 2566
Bureau Representative:	David Correll
		Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
		Box 28
		Edgewater, MD  21037
		301 261 4190
		FAX: 301 261 7954