From Leaf Litter to Canopy: Noninvasive and Reliable Sampling in a Tropical Rainforest
Rainforest canopies provide a unique ecosystem that harbor a staggering diversity of animals. Yet, they are perhaps the least explored biological frontiers primarily due to their inaccessibility. In this chapter we present glimpses of our research, carried out in the rainforests of Kudremukh National Park in southern India that have bearing on canopy science. Our research reveals the layered and heterogeneous vegetation structure of tropical rainforests, identifying the canopy as the layer with the highest foliage density. This highlights the role of the canopy in providing ecosystem services such as primary productivity, sustenance of the water cycle and regulation of matter and energy fluxes. We also quantitatively demonstrate the canopy as the largest provider of sitting space for animals and the strong dependence of several insects on this layer of the forest. Further, we present acoustic monitoring as a non-invasive and reliable method of biodiversity monitoring of acoustically active animals. Finally, we describe an innovative method of canopy access that allows vertically and horizontally movement within the canopy. We hope that this method will provide a low-cost alternative to canopy walkways. We propose that acoustic monitoring in combination with reliable canopy access techniques can potentially be used for biodiversity monitoring in these speciose and inaccessible parts of the forest.
KeywordsForest structure Microhabitat selection Acoustic monitoring Horizontal canopy access Crickets Kudremukh
- Dial RJ, Sillett SC, Antoine ME, Spickler JC (2004) Methods for horizontal movement through forest canopies. Selbyana 25:151–163Google Scholar
- Jain M, Kuriakose G, Balakrishnan R (2010) Evaluation of methods to estimate understorey foliage density in a tropical evergreen forest. Curr Sci 98:508–515Google Scholar