When the tree fell that October in 2015, the tropical giant didn’t go down alone. Hundreds of neighbouring trees went with it, opening a massive 2.5-acre gap in the Panamanian rainforest.
Treefalls happen all the time, but this one just happened to occur in the exact spot where a decades-long ecological study was in progress, giving University of Illinois researchers a rare look into tropical forest dynamics.
“I’ve been walking around that tree for 30 years now. It was just humongous,” says Jeff Brawn, Professor and Stuart L. and Nancy J. Levenick Chair in Sustainability in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at Illinois. “Here we are, running around on this plot for years and all of a sudden I couldn’t even find my way around. We just lucked into it.” MORE
Header image: Henry Pollock.