Forest Ecology


Forests cover 31% of the world’s land surface – just over 4 billion hectares. According to the Earth Policy Institute, this figure is down from the pre-industrial area of 5.9 billion hectares.

The planet’s forest area is still on the decline. The global net forest loss between 2000 and 2010 was 5.2 million hectares annually.

Major contributors to deforestation worldwide include cattle ranching, charcoal production, commercial agriculture, construction of highways and other infrastructure, farming, fires, firewood collection, logging operations, mining, palm oil production, and subsistence farming.

There are some bright spots, however, due to the growth of planted forests in Australia, Central America, China, Indonesia, Mexico, the United States, and parts of Africa.

It is important to remember that not all trees, and not all forests, are alike. Planted forests cannot compare with the rich biodiversity and complex ecological relationships in old-growth stands in the Pacific Northwest or the expansive primary rainforests in Amazonia, the Congo, and the Asian tropics.

The benefits provided by intact forest ecosystems include:

  • Ecological functions such as carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water and air purification, and maintenance of wildlife habitat.
  • Goods such as timber, food, fuel, and other bioproducts.
  • Social and cultural benefits such as recreation, traditional resource uses, and spirituality.

Forests are essential for life on Earth. They are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, much of which dwells in the treetops. Further, 300 million people worldwide live in forests and 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods.

The Work of Bioquest Solutions LLC

The field projects of Bioquest Solutions LLC in the field of forest ecology fall into several categories: scientific research, science education, and science and access technology.

Scientific Research to contribute to discovery and opportunity in the world’s forest systems. Topics include the nature of forest canopies, verticality and habitat analysis (e.g., stratification among neotropical migrants), tropical microclimate considerations, plant-insect interactions (e.g., insect herbivory, soil microarthropods and decomposition), nutrient cycling (e.g., energy circuits and feedback loops), and ecotourism. For example:

  • Use of a Forest Canopy Walkway for Studying Habitat Selection by Neotropical Migrants. For more information, here.
  • Canopy Herbivory and Soil Ecology – Top-Down Impact of Forest Processes. For more information, here.
  • Verticality and Habitat Analysis. For more information, here.
  • Stand-Level Herbivory in an Old-Growth Conifer Forest Canopy. For more information, here.
  • Development of a Novel Method for Assessing Stand-Level Herbivory in Forests. For more information, here.

Science Education to promote an understanding of forest biodiversity and ecological services. Topics include tropical forest ecology, key ecological processes (e.g., insect herbivory and soil decomposition), plant architecture (e.g., leaves, stems, and trunks, vines, and epiphytes), biomimicry designs and applications, biological hotspots, and ethnobotany. For example:

  • Africa from the Treetops. For more information, here.
  • Reintegration of Wonder into the Emerging Science of Canopy Ecology. For more information, here.

Science and Access Technology to provide a three-dimensional perspective of forest biodiversity and functionality. Topics include single- and double-rope techniques and canopy balloons, cranes, rafts, towers, and walkways. In 1995, Dr. H. Bruce Rinker, founder of Bioquest Solutions LLC, designed, secured complete funding, and built the Forest Canopy Walkway at Millbrook School in Millbrook, NY. To build this extraordinary educational facility, Dr. Rinker worked closely with Bart Bouricius, Robbie Oates, and Ed Olander at Canopy Construction Associates based in Amherst, MA. For a number of years, he assisted with ongoing maintenance and inspection of the public-accessible canopy walkway at Myakka River State Park and directed the Center for Canopy Ecology at the Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota, FL from 2000 to 2004. Since 2001, Dr. Rinker has been an active member of the Research Advisory Board for the ACTS Biological Field Research Station, or the Amazon Conservatory for Tropical Studies, outside Iquitos, Peru, a facility that owns and operates one of the longest walkway systems in the world.