Canopy access at Illawarra Fly

Last week I spent a couple of days measuring eucalypt leaves from the Illawarra Fly.  This attraction is a steel walkway about 500 metres long that hangs 25 metres up in the canopy.  The Fly is right on the edge of the escarpment which affords amazing view towards Shellharbour.  But it also provides wonderful access to the forest canopy.  Eucalyptus fastigata is the dominant over-story species, but there are also some E. smithii trees there too.  This site is a good contrast to EucFACE as the soils are comparatively richer in nutrients.  Last time I came to the Illawarra Fly, I was a bit nervous on the walkway which moves a little and has a mesh base so you can see the group 25 m below.  But after spending do much time working in crane bucket at EucFACE, this time I didn’t even think about it.  At the Fly, armed with LiCors to measure photosynthesis, we measured CO2 response (A-Ci) curves in which we expose leaves to increasing levels of CO2 and measures the resulting assimilation rates, or ability of the plants to covert CO2 into larger carbon molecules.  From these curve we can determine the rates of different components of the reactions involved in photosynthesis.  It was fun and challenging to explain what we were doing to visitors who came past with bemused looks on their faces, but I confess I’m glad our visit did not overlap with school holidays otherwise I might not have done much work at all!  The staff at the Fly were very helpful.  The birdlife was wonderful with gang gangs, rainbow lorikeets, whipbirds and a tawny frogmouth.  We had a great time, and collected good data too.
photoA LiCor set up on the walkway
photo_1Stunning view from the Fly!
photo_4A Tawny frogmouth was watching
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