Lightning Ecology

Forest canopies exist at the interface between land and atmosphere.  Consequently, tree crowns are highly exposed to lightning and other atmospheric phenomena.  Lightning conspicuously damages and often kills trees, yet we know very little about its broader ecological effects.  Our ongoing research on this topic addresses three questions: 1) What are the population and ecosystem level consequences of lightning in tropical forests?; 2) Are some trees or tree species more susceptible or resistant to lightning?; and 3) Do lianas provide lightning protection for tropical trees?