Soberania National Park and the Chagres River

Lowland tropical rainforest

Soberania National Park, Panama

Situated in central Panama, the park consists of 22,000 hectares of lush, lowland tropical rainforests with distinct wet and dry seasons (2.4 meters of annual rainfall). The forest hosts a rich diversity of plants and animals and is adjacent to the Chagres River which is an important watershed to the Panama Canal. The town of Gamboa is the point of access to Camino del Oleoducto, an old pipeline service road that runs 17km through the middle of the park and provides access to an abundance of gap-loving Cecropia trees. At least four species of Cecropia (C. peltataC. longipesC. obtusifolia, and C. insignis) and three species of Cecropia-dwelling Azteca (A. constructor, A. isthmica,  and A. alfari) are common in the park and are the focus of many experiments. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) offers robust infrastructure and expertise in the area and throughout Panama.

Camino del Oleoducto


Iguassu Falls Region, Brazil

The Iguassu Falls region is known as the Triple Frontier for bordering Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. At its center is Iguaçu National Park, a vast 170,000 hectares of beautiful lowland Atlantic Rainforest known for its biodiversity and endemism among many groups of plants and animals. Seasons alternate between cool and dry to hot and wet (1.8 meters of annual rainfall). In winter months see temperatures drop below 0°C, while summer can drive above 36°C. The giant Iguaçu River meanders through the park eventually giving way to Iguaçu Falls, a globally spectacular 2.7 km wide waterfall landscape, before emptying into the Paraná River. The most common Cecropia tree in the region is Cecropia pachystachya which hosts Azteca alfari and occasionally A. muelleri.

Cecropia trees line the banks of the Iguassu River as it pours over cliffs into the Atlantic Rainforest.