THE FOREST ECOLOGY LABORATORY studies the structure, growth and function of forest ecosystems, particularly the canopy portion of deciduous forests.

We study the exchange of energy and materials between the canopy and the atmosphere, the ecology of canopy organisms, and the physiological behavior of canopy surfaces. We hypothesize that the structure of the canopy influences the way forests work and we are working to clarify the rules relating canopy structure and function.

Most of our research is centered in a tall, mixed species forest on the SERC property, where we study the microclimate conditions within the forest as well as the transfer of radiation, heat, water vapor and carbon dioxide to and from the atmosphere. We also study these relations in other forests, including different developmental stages of the core forest type, and forests in other climates. With the understanding gained from these studies we hope to make general predictions about how forests function to control microclimate and water balance, accumulate carbon dioxide, and provide habitat for organisms


Dr. Geoffrey "Jess" Parker
Senior Scientist

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

PO Box 28
Edgewater, Maryland 21037
Phone: 443-482-2210
Fax: 443-482-2380

Featured Topics

Portable Laser System for Forest Structure Measurement

The forest ecology lab has developed and tested a portable system for rapidly measuring forest structure.

It consists of commercially-available components mounted on a lightweight carrying frame.

When the system is walked along a transect through the forest, the resulting data can be used to visualize a "slice" through the forest canopy.