Cover image for Life in the treetops : adventures of a woman in field biology
Life in the treetops : adventures of a woman in field biology
Lowman, Margaret D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 219 pages : illustrations, map ; 22 cm
General Note:
Map on lining papers.

Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH31.L79 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A description of the mysteries of the treetops - their inhabitants, flowers and fruits, growth and mortality, and patterns of diversity. Margaret Lowman discusses different canopy access techniques. She also portrays the life of a field biologist from a woman's perspective.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

What goes on in the canopy (the uppermost layer) of a forest? How do you reach the crown of a rain forest tree 70 feet above the ground? Lowman is a botanist who studies the canopy ecosystem, teasing apart the complex relationships among organisms that never touch the ground. Lowman uses techniques to access the canopy world that range from the prosaic (climbing ropes) to feats of engineering (giant cranes and canopy walkways resembling suspension bridges) to the exotic (dirigibles and inflatable "canopy sleds"). She describes the hypotheses and the research that went with each technique. Interwoven with her narrative of field work is the story of how she balanced the needs of marriage, housewifery, children, and eventual single parenthood with college teaching and research trips to locales such as Panama, Australia, and Cameroon. How Lowman succeeded in a male-dominated field makes for inspiring reading. --Nancy Bent

Publisher's Weekly Review

The director of research and conservation at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Fla., offers a rare tour of the treetops in this lively and engaging memoir. From her first climb up a coachwood tree in Australia, using a slingshot rappel and a harness hand-sewn with seat-belt webbing, Lowman knew she wanted to devote her career to studying the mysteries of forest canopies, "one of the last biotic frontiers on Earth." In straightforward prose, she writes about a variety of canopy access techniques and the scientific hypotheses she explored while using each one. She details, for instance, using a single rope to climb giant stinging trees as a graduate student in Australia; squeezing into a cherry picker while pregnant to study that continent's failing eucalyptus trees; battling temperatures of over 100 degrees while suspended from a hot air balloon above the African tropics; and broadcasting, from a swaying canopy bridge in the Belizian rain forest, live via satellite to students thousands of miles away. Often the only woman on her jungle excursions, Lowman confronted challenges on the ground as well, such as the attentive group of African Pygmies who followed her each time she headed for the shower stalls. More serious was the pressure to abandon her fieldwork after she settled down with a grazier in the Australian outback, and the cultural differences that eventually led her to return to the U.S. with her two young sons. Readers will empathize with Lowman's struggles to balance family and career, but it is her fascinating research and amusing adventures in the jungle that will keep them turning pages. 30 illustrations. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Botanist Lowman presents a wonderful mix of ecological research and life story. Her pioneering research in the forest canopies of Australia, Africa, Belize, and the United States is fascinating and gives the reader a real feel for the importance of canopy research in particular and ecological research in general. The methods she has used to study forest canopies include specially built walkways in the trees, hot-air balloons, construction cranes, and binoculars from the ground. The story of Lowman's career from graduate school to her current position as director of research and conservation at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, FL, is tempered by her struggles to balance field research, marriage, and motherhood. Unfortunately, there is no bibliography. Recommended for public and academic libraries and also of interest to teens contemplating science careers.ÄMargaret Henderson, Cold Spring Harbor Academics, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.