Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Compared with the trees, lianas are able to put more energy  into the production of leaves and seeds and less towards growing a trunk.

Tarzan's Favorite Mode of Travel, the Liana Vine, Chokes Off a Tree's Ability to Bear Fruit

With lowered fruit production, fewer seeds are dispersed to grow new trees

A female Limosa harlequin frog sports a miniature radio transmitter.

A Pioneering Force of Harlequin Frogs Set Out to Help Save Their Species

Outfitted with tiny transmitters, these frogs are released to face the challenging chytrid fungus that decimated their populations

Exclusively feeding in the wild on blood from live animals, vampire bats, native to Central and South America, can regurgitate blood in order to feed one another, though they won't do this for just anyone.

What a Vampire Bat Can Teach Us About the Economics of Friendship

A Smithsonian scientist says important lessons about making friends and sharing can be learned from these blood-sucking creatures

Multiple views of the young teen's right humerus arm bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow show where the tumor left its mark.

Oldest Cancer Case in Central America Discovered

A young teen, who died 700 years ago, likely suffered pain in the right arm as the tumor grew and expanded through the bone

Thousands of clay caterpillars, like this one glued to a leaf in Hong Kong, were used to measure how often predators are eating insects around the world.

Sacrificing Fake Caterpillars in the Name of Science

Ersatz insects are helping ecologists figure out why bugs are more likely to become meals near the equator

“It's hard to imagine," says Smithsonian scientist Carlos Jaramillo,"that you could have the Caribbean ocean in the west Amazon."

A Vast and Now Vanished Amazon Sea Is Discovered

About 18 million years ago, the Caribbean Sea seasonally flooded inland forests, where enormous crocodiles and turtles roamed

Mateo-Vega (right) shows Emberá and Kuna colleagues how to take forest measurements. From left to right, indigenous technicians Edgar Garibaldo, Chicho Chamorro, Baurdino Lopez, Evelio Jiménez, Alexis Solís.

How Scientists And Indigenous Groups Can Team Up to Protect Forests and Climate

A collaboration between Smithsonian researchers and the Emberá people of Panama aims to rewrite a fraught narrative

A rare Eld's deer fawn was born at the National Zoo last fall.

Take a Walk on the Bright Side at the First Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit

As an antidote to doom and gloom, a conference on Earth Day weekend, takes a look all the good that is being done

Andrew Altieri of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama conducts a survey where more than 90 percent of the coral reef has died due to hypoxia.

Coral Reefs Now Face Deep Water Dead Zones, As If Climate Change Were Not Enough

A Smithsonian scientist says there may be a greater prevalence of undocumented oxygen-starved deep coastal waters

Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki)

Here's Why You Should Never Kiss a Toad

A scientist at Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute helped catalog everything known about toxins in the skins of endangered frogs and toads

Creatures so small that they had been overlooked in the past—sea urchins, Echinometra viridis, (above)  the size of ping-pong balls and a diminutive species of parrotfish, Scarus iseri, were grazing algae on the reef.

These Itsy-Bitsy Herbivores Could Stage a Huge Coral Reef Rescue

Tiny parrotfish and sea urchins can take over the job of their larger cousins to keep a reef free of algae

The Panamanian golden frog has become the flagship species for amphibian conservation around the world.

The Race to Protect Frogs from a Deadly Pathogen Gets a Much-Needed Boost

A new amphibian lab in Panama will help researchers to return charismatic golden frogs to the wild

"I began to wonder," says Smithsonian researcher Dolores Piperno, who studies the ancestor of the corn plant, "what did the plants actually look like between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago? Did they look the same?"

To Decode the Mystery of Corn, Smithsonian Scientists Recreate Earth as it Was 10,000 Years Ago

As part of a groundbreaking study, researchers built a greenhouse "time machine"

Barro Colorado Island, on the Panama Canal, is home to at least 74 bat species. A group of German researchers is studying them all to understand the spread of diseases.

A Night in the Forest Capturing Bats

Our intrepid reporter joins tropical bat researchers in the field one night and gains some appreciation for their fangs

This hive of the stingless honey-making bee Melipona triplaridis is one of a handful of tropical hives bee expert David Roubik keeps at his home in Panama City. Note the waffle-like honeycomb in the background

Smithsonian's Bee Man Delivers Up Some Advice for Dealing with Colony Collapse Disorder

David Roubik, who pioneered the field of tropical bee studies, says what will save them is a better understanding of their natural state

“You have to consider...interactions between species” in a community, says Helen Esser, right.

Does Chopping Down Forests Spread Diseases?

A young scientist in Panama devises a novel way to study ticks and disease

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