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Strangler figs: Silent assassins, diversity engines, rainforest timekeepers

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 19, 2017 12:50:06 PM / by Varun Swamy posted in Tambopata Research Center, Amazon, Peru, rainforest, Tambopata, rainforest fruits, keystone species, frugivores, Buttresses, Canopy, Megaflora, Strangler fig, Ficus

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(Borrowing from a J&B whisky commercial from the 1990s…)

Tradition says: "A tree must begin its life from the forest floor".

Tradition says:  "A tree shall form a relatively cylindrical trunk".

Tradition says: "A tree shalt not kill another tree".

Well, strangler fig trees clearly did not receive these edicts...or perhaps they did, and decided "To Hell with tradition!" - much to the delight of aficionados of bizarre, spectacular tropical nature of the floral kind. 

Ficus ypsilophlebia, a spectacular and emblematic strangler fig species of the Amazon rainforest (Photo: Varun Swamy) 

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Charismatic megaflora of the Amazon rainforest

[fa icon="calendar'] May 22, 2017 9:46:34 AM / by Varun Swamy posted in Tambopata Research Center, wildlife photography, Posada Amazonas, Shihuahuaco, Ceiba, Brazilnut, Aerobotany, Refugio Amazonas, Buttresses, Canopy, Megaflora

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Mention the words "Amazon rainforest" to the layperson, and it is likely that the first creatures that spring to their minds are jaguars, caimans, giant river otters, spider monkeys or scarlet macaws….large, colorful, striking animals, some easily sighted and others far more elusive. Other folk might associate the rainforest with the ubiquitous "bugs" that it teems with – hundreds of thousands of species of myriad forms and adaptations, with a sizeable fraction still unknown to science and waiting to be discovered.  

But to me (and others of a more botanically inclined ilk), the Amazon rainforest is defined by its charismatic megaflora: the trees that form its canopy and the very basis of the ecosystem, allowing for the existence of the staggering diversity of other life forms.

Charismatic megaflora of Tambopata: Top left - Ceiba pentandra (Kapok tree), Top right - Bertholettia excelsa (Brazilnut tree), Bottom left - Sloanea obtusifolia, Bottom right - Buchenavia grandis and her beauteous buttresses. (Photos: Varun Swamy)

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HarpyCam - Tambopata AmazonCam

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