Forest Service field ecologist Jimmy Grogan at the Marajoara field site in southeast Pará, Brazil. The ‘sororoca’ plant with the wide leaves is a relative of the banana. Although the photo was taken in the daytime, the light is low because the researchers are in the forest understory. Photo by M. Loveless
I have lived and worked abroad for most of my adult life, including many years in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, so it was not too difficult adjusting to life in the Brazilian Amazon. I learned to speak Portuguese in the field; my tutors were the field assistants that I hired locally. The politics of doing research on this species are challenging and complicated. That side of my research has been almost as educational and fascinating as the actual fieldwork. Read more »
Field assistants measure mahogany tree diameter near the agricultural town of Agua Azul in southeast Pará, Brazil. Photo by J. Grogan
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
The very name mahogany is synonymous with luxury and sophistication. This beautiful wood has been traded internationally since the Spanish discovered natural forests around 1500 during colonization of Mexico and Central America. Mahogany is more than a pretty plank – its strength, light weight, resistance to rot, and structural stability made it an ideal timber for ocean-going vessels as well as furniture. Mahogany also occupies an important position in the ecosystem insofar as it is a large tree that emerges above the forest canopy. Many other species depend on it for habitat and survival. Read more »