New work from a team led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner shows the limitations of long-used research methods in tropical rainforest ecology and points to new technological approaches for understanding forest structures and systems on large geographic scales. For decades, the primary method of studying tropical forests has been field inventory plots—specially selected areas assumed to represent their surrounding forested landscapes.The Carnegie team used advanced three-dimensional forest mapping techniques provided by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to determine how representative typical field plots actually are of their surroundings in forested landscapes.

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