Hurray for fun tropical adventures on our day off in Panama! A few days ago, we traveled to the Smithsonian Canopy Crane.
The crane your run-of-the-mill construction crane with a gondola attached. We all thought we were going to be afraid, but being in the canopy is a lot like being on the ground except that there are animals that hang out in the tree tops, like these!
Azteca ants in their carton nest
We also saw a three-toed sloth, white-shouldered tanagers, and wasps and bees.
Researchers use this crane to learn what’s happening in the rainforest canopy. They can even talk to the crane operator and choose where to go. Most of the research in the canopy now is a mapping race: Who lives there? How much CO2 do different types of canopies absorb and give off? How do different types of trees defend themselves from plant-eating insects and mammals? Then, of course, there are the gliding ants: http://www.canopyants.com/video1.html
I’m leaving Panama in one day. I’ve learned a ton here, and the tropical behavioral ecology course (http://www.stri.si.edu/english/about_stri/headline_news/news/article.php?id=1664) has been by far one of my favorite experiences as a graduate student. Thanks to everyone who made it awesome, especially Rachelle Adams and Jon Shik.