Surveying Canopy Wildlife: A Brief Look at Looking Up

There is more to come in the way of introductions, but here is a quick first look at my project, Looking Up: A Canopy Wildlife Expedition. Throughout the year, I’ll be conducting wildlife surveys in forest canopies of Malaysia and Ecuador.

As a scientist, I’m excited to expand my work to new research sites. Camera trapping in the canopy isn’t terribly common, so the surveys that I conduct really will be the first of their kind for these areas. As a storyteller I’m looking forward to shining a light on arboreal wildlife (which, in fact, is exactly how these animals are traditionally surveyed – see a yet-to-be-written post on spotlight surveys) and sharing the literal and metaphorical ups and downs of this process.

It occurs to me now that I have already broken one of the first rules introduced to us in our Digital Storytelling Boot Camp this summer. We were encouraged to avoid clichéd phrases as much as possible, and it appears as though I only made it five sentences in to my first post before throwing in two of them. Moving forward, I’ll do my best to keep this at a minimum and I promise not to go so far as to refer to any ‘lions, tigers, and bears’ (except for right now).

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Changing Planet


Meet the Author
Kevin McLean is an ecologist studying wildlife in tropical forest canopies using motion-sensitive cameras (camera traps). As a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow he will travel to Malaysian Borneo and the Ecuadorian Amazon to survey canopy wildlife in two of the most biodiverse areas of the world. As he collects his scientific data, he will use writing, photos, and videos to provide a view of some of the least-known species in the forest. His research and stories will be made available to the public through a museum exhibit that will highlight canopy wildlife and the conservation threats they face. Kevin studied Earth Systems at Stanford University and recently completed his PhD in Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.