Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox every week.      
The Kid Should See This

In the forest canopy with pioneering ecologist Nalini Nadkarni

“You know, people have been studying forests for centuries, but it’s only been in the last 20, 25, 30 years that people have actually climbed up into the forest canopy to understand the environment up in the treetops.”

Climb those treetops with pioneering ecologist Nalini Nadkarni. One of the first people to do so, she’s studied canopies in Costa Rica and the Pacific Northwest for decades. In fact, this NPR story explains, “She helped shape our understanding of canopy soils — a type of soil that forms on the tree trunks and branches.”

The soil is made up of dead canopy plants and animals that decompose in place. The rich soil supports canopy-dwelling plants, insects and microorganisms that live their entire life cycles in the treetops. If the canopy soil falls to the forest floor, the soil joins the nutrient cycles of the whole forest.

She also discovered that some trees are able to grow above-ground roots from their branches and trunks. Much like below ground roots, the aerial roots can transport water and nutrients into the tree.

NPR’s Maddie Sofia talks with her about TreeTop Barbie and The Last Biotic Frontier while hanging high among the tree branches in this episode of Maddie About Science.

Nalini Nadkarni
forest canopy

Related listening on NPR’s ShortWave Science Podcast: Tree Scientist Inspires Next Generation … Through Barbie.

Next, watch Each Tree Is Its Own Adventure: Climbing giant sequoias for science, The Wood Wide Web: How trees secretly talk to and share with each other, Why 10 Daily Tons of Ant Poop Keep This Rainforest Thriving, and Soil 101.

Bonus: Outfitting Tree Kangaroos with tiny video cameras.

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

The Wood Wide Web: How trees secretly talk to and share with each other

Rion Nakaya

WoodSwimmer, a cross-sectional look at wood in stop motion

Rion Nakaya

A Forest Year: Time lapse videos of Earth’s cycle of the seasons

Rion Nakaya

Growing 500 edible plants in a forest

Rion Nakaya

How Do Tropical Rainforests Make Clouds?

Rion Nakaya

How do trees survive winter? – MinuteEarth

Rion Nakaya

“Flying” spiders that can glide through the air from tree to tree

Rion Nakaya

Ecosystem Engineers: How do beavers build dams?

Rion Nakaya

Each Tree Is Its Own Adventure: Climbing giant sequoias for science

Rion Nakaya