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Worlds Beneath the Canopy
First Aired live Tuesday April 14th 1998, 13:00 hours, Eastern
(check local PBS and NASA-TV listings!)

Watch out for snakes and poison dart frogs on this one!

If you weren’t able to see the Live Broadcast you can view archives of the event.

Download the RealPlayer to view these archives.

From Root to Tree Top!

A close up exploration of the many niches in the different layers... from nutrient-poor soils, rich with life, to pools high in the branches... using all the tools of modern research.

Howler Monkeys and Dung Beetles

Study seed dispersal with researcher Ellen Andrensen: up at dawn, out in the forest, searching for monkey dung... harvesting seeds, tying on strings, coating them with monkey scat, and tracing how the beetles bury them. (Producer Script: sound gross? But this is literally one of the neatest researchers at work in the Amazon!)

Going Batty

Up late at night with researcher Enrico Bernard, using mist nets to study the creatures that rule the night skies, a niche as real as any physical place in the forest. (Producer Script: remember that night vision scope! Wonder if we need rabies shots?)

“Social” Spiders!

Think of a spider and you probably imagine a loner, sitting solo in the middle of a web: another surprise it doesn’t work that way here! Eduardo Venticinque studies spiders who live in huge communities, benefiting from their mutualistic interaction. (Teacher Script: Better be sure to check out more info. about on this on the WEB!)

Putting it All Together

Susan Laurance knows how all the pieces fit: the bird’s beak in the narrow flower, the ants who live on certain leaves in special houses, guarding their host from other creatures who might nibble on it, the termites who’re part of nature’s most efficient recycling squad: she’s an ecologist, and her team (led by husband Bill, see program 3) is building on nearly 20 years of detailed data!

Real Time Interactions

Down on the river bank... and looking around in the understory, with Susan Laurance live on camera, and Marcelo Lima. Students in Florida bring their experiences in the wetlands and wilderness of North America’s own tropics to inform their questions to the Amazon. And students in West Virginia have an opportunity to connect directly to somewhere just a few classmates have ventured on a physical field trip. Once more rainforest experts work the computers at the Smithsonian, answering live e-mail during and after the program.