Nick---Most of the canopy researchers are hanging out on the scientific websites. They are not so much interested in climbing technique and climbing issues as they are in the research they conduct while climbing. I have spent the last two summers working with canopy researchers and I can tell you that most of them would be lost if they tried to get in on our conversations.
This is a problem in that most of the climbing technique that I have observed within the research community is rather scary. As an example: When I first showed up at the biological field station in Panama, no one there had even heard of double rope technique. The limited climbing that they were doing was strictly single rope and would never go beyond their entry pitch. They had no idea how to advance themselves through the canopy once they reached the top of their entry rope. I have always advocated a mix of SRT and DRT as the best solution to the climbing challenges presented in canopy exploration and research. My biggest concern, however, is that these types of climbers tend to give higher priority to their research than to the issues of safety and proper climbing techniques.
I think it would be a great benefit to everyone if there were a closer liaison between the scientific climbing community and the recreational climbing community. Both groups have a lot that could be shared with each other.
Could you give us all an idea of what kind of stuff the canopy researchers take up with them? Not so much their climbing gear, which sounds minimal (a concept foreign to me), but their research gear. Is it as simple as a camera, pen and paper or is it more involved? Do they have caches they leave up there or do they haul it all out every day?
The research that is being done in the canopy is very varied and the equipment used is also quite variable. Some of the research involves nothing more than a notebook and a pencil, while other projects might require an entire team to get the gear up into the canopy. Most of the projects with which I have been involved were relatively small, usually involving only one or two students and/or researchers and minimal equipment. The most complex project involved the placement of a small portable platform in the canopy which was removed after several days of use.
One of the more interesting projects is a study being conducted by a graduate student from Auburn University and his assistant. The two are collecting data on the eyelash viper, which is an arboreal poisonous reptile. Most of the specimens found thus far have been on low branches and in small trees near the ground. Quite a few, however, have been found high in the canopy, the highest having been found at a height of nearly one hundred and thirty feet. The two researchers capture the specimens, collect data such as weight, length, time of day, height off the ground, type of tree, and so on, then release them again. Many of those captured have been captured before and the database of information on these creatures is growing. The equipment that these two researchers are using weighs in at about ten pounds, not counting their climbing equipment and the equipment that one will usually carry along on a walk in the rainforest.
Another student researcher spent several days in the canopy with nothing more than pen, notebook, and binoculars and documented all the various creatures that she observed in the tree. In three days of observations (more or less) she identified over a hundred different creature, most of which were insects, but including such things as bats, frogs, a snake, and a number of different birds.
To answer the question, all I can say is that the amount of gear necessary depends upon the project itself and there is no set list of equipment.
Since you are interested in tropical birds and in tree climbing, you might consider the tree climbing expedition to Panama. Several of us went last January; it was incredible! There was a tremendous number of birds while we were there, and there are at least 2 platforms set up (~70' and 85' up in the tree) for observation, etc. You get a ton of great climbing experience, but in a low-stress environment.
I am interested in any forest reaearch associated with special forest communities, canopy ecology, bird studies etc that may be going on in the Southern Apps, especially in Georgia. Anybody know of any such science being pursued? Thanks, Wayne
Do a Google search on "Tree Canopy Biodiversity in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park." I don't know if there is anything recent happening with this project, but it is interesting. GSMNP is a hotspot for canopy biodiversity.
Between this one, and another topic, it seemed worthwhile to interject a couple of paragraphs.
Most of the canopy researchers I've met, typically, seem much more busy than most recreational climbers I've encountered. So it's understandable why there may be a silence from them in this kind of forum.
Unless messages are specifically related to a project they are presently engaged in, it's evident that it may even take a week or few weeks to get email replies. That I know from several people who were emailing about stuff that was reasonably intelligent discussion material ... but not front-burner stuff.
I found that most enjoy sharing what they learn, and that they are fairly social when the opportunity arises. The opportunity though, often seems to coincide with their research, after-hour meals, or events they are involved with.
I am currently working on an independent canopy research study in Southeast Ohio. I am studying the insect community between two species of trees, white oak and red maple. My objective is to determine how the insect community differs from the understory to the canopy. To accomplish this, I have installed insect traps in both the understory and the canopy in 10 red maples and 10 white oaks. I checked all traps once a week for six weeks. As far as equipment used in the canopy, I primarily brought ethanol into the trees to replace in my traps once checked. However, I also brought pencil and paper to record various things such as temperature. I got into this project because of my passion for climbing more so than from an entomology standpoint. I am in my senior year of undergraduate school and rather than take an elective I had the opportunity to conduct an independent research study. I wanted to do something that involved climbing trees so I came up with this protocol based off of a study done in Canada. Unfortunately, I had limited time and resources so my approach was fairly novice but I was able to collect sound data. I was fortunate enough to make all traps myself with materials donated from a company I had contacted. I am currently working on analyzing the results and beginning my technical paper. I am excited to see what the final results will be.