Can you see the forest for the trees?

From iconic redwoods, to tropical palm trees, to the small windblown trees of subalpine threshold forests are just about everywhere. We assume that the vast majority of people know what a forest is and what it does, but is that so? Forests are being looked at through a new lens using new methods. Researchers are trying to answer questions like: what services do forests provide, how much biodiversity do they have, and what can be done to protect them amidst so many human and environmental threats?

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Predicting nature’s trends: What is behind leaf turnover in temperate deciduous forests?

Finally, after five gruesome months spent doing field work in the Louisiana swamps sweating and inhaling mosquitos, I can sense the coming of fall. My coworker from Minnesota is not convinced however with temperatures still reaching above 90°F during the middle of the day. I try to explain that unlike further north where the changing of seasons is marked by an obvious change in temperature and vibrant alteration in the color of the landscape, seasonal change in the south takes a well trained eye to observe. The changes are a bit more obscure: A slight browning of the green swamp canopy, fewer bugs, and a small breeze. How do the trees decide the time is now to start the process of dropping all their precious foliage and why are there differences in preferred timing between various individuals living within the same area. More importantly, why do you care?

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