Lichens helped to establish canopy research system in French Guiana

Model of the Canopy Operation Access System using lichens as tree canopies

Model of the Canopy Operation Access System using lichens as tree canopies

Back in the days, our fungi and lichens Collections Manager Robert Lücking was involved in a project to design and establish a canopy access system in French Guiana for the study of the functional biodiversity of tropical rain forest canopies. The system was named COPAS: Canopy Operation Access System. To obtain initial funding for the project, Robert spent countless hours to built the model depicted here, including trees with a canopy formed by reindeer lichens. The project was awarded the Koerber European Science Price in 1996, but due to technical and other challenges, it took almost two decades until it was fully installed in the wilderness of French Guiana (see pictures here: http://www.nouragues.cnrs.fr/spip.php?article98). While French Guiana, as an oversees department of France and with much support from the European Unian, had been considered save, at the time the system was installed at Nouragues, the area had been invaded by gold diggers and at one point the station was attacked. But the system is now successfully operating and offers unique possibilities to study unknown canopy organisms and their ecology.