What’s in a Cubic Foot of Rainforest?

by Jennifer Frazer on February 28, 2011

Rainforest on Mo'orea. Whatever you do, don't drop your keys in here. Creative Commons Tim Waters

National Geographic sent a photographer into the field to photograph every species he could find in a cubic foot of rainforest on the French Polynesian island of Mo’orea. It’s both an interesting illustration of some biodiversity (what about the microbes?) and a fun visual treat — take some time to just flip through the photographs and absorb the information visually. Don’t bother reading the scientific names (unless you must) — just read the common names, or just look at the pictures. Note the variations in shape and form.

I think they were looking much harder for insects than they were for fungi. I find it hard to believe they couldn’t find more — especially the little ones that like to hang out on rotting pieces of wood. Also: could we get a species ID on the lichen? Even to genus? A little respect, please!

In particular, notice how even otherwise dull-looking insects can have their special own beauty when viewed up close: the graceful sweep of the almond moth’s antennae, for instance, the fan dancer’s wings of the white plume moth, or the kinked wingtips of one of the kindeid moths. Other details to look for: Notice the antennae located on the snout of the weevil, and the ubercute juvenile Gump’s woodlouse. Awwww. Happy Monday, y’all.

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