National Geographic : 1990 Oct
MUSCLE AND NERVE are the tickets to the top for Brazilian forester Beatriz Armendariz Pereira (left), who cataloged the dimen sions of trees. A harness and sliding hand clamps aid ascent to one of the raft's "manholes." The trip can take newcomers half an hour, with practice less than 15 minutes. We often made the climb in the evening and slept in the raft (facing page) to get a jump on the next day's work. Graduate student Olivier Pascal, at upper right, and my chief assistant, Patrick Blanc, with the French National Center for Scientific Research, nestle in for the night. During our studies Blanc found empty spaces between the tops of several trees. This little-understood phenomenon, known as "crown shyness," apparently occurs only between trees of the same species. On the forest floor, illustrator Jean-Louis Tripp (above, at left) and Isabelle Valade, scientific secretary for the mission, gin gerly examine a wasp nest. In the raft Tony Irvine (left), a specialist in pollination ecol ogy, wears jeweler's glasses as he examines flowers for compar ison with those in the rain for ests of his native Australia.