One of my projects was a planting experiment to see what kinds of tree species would grow best in different types of environmental conditions in the tropical rainforest. To set up the project I spent months growing and coddling about 1,000 seedlings (my babies!). Then I planted them into the field and left them to fend for themselves. When I came back to check on the seedlings after six months, some of seedlings that were only a few inches high when I planted them had grown to be taller than me. I knew that plants in the tropics grew fast, but it was still shocking to see it firsthand. Those individuals represented an extreme case, but overall I found that important species that weren’t expected to grow well in fact excelled.
What inspired you to research the urban forest?
The majority of the world’s people live in urban environments, where urban forests not only provide aesthetic enjoyment and recreational opportunities, but they also provide important environmental benefits, including cleaner air and water. By studying the factors that influence urban tree health and survival, we can take even better care of these trees in the future. I also love inspiring volunteers to observe the natural diversity that can be found right in their own backyards!