The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us

Farrar. Aug. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780374162696. $28. NAT HIST
Lowman’s contributions to ecology are numerous, as a professor, science communicator, international collaborator, and leader in conservation organizations. In this science-oriented memoir, she details a lifetime of experiences, starting with her childhood in rural New York, where she pressed wildflowers and measured eggshells. Early in her career, as a field biologist studying Australian rain forests, she realized that she couldn’t truly observe trees and leaves from the ground; she decided to climb up into the forest canopy using slingshots, ropes, and a homemade harness. Soon, she was building aerial walkways on multiple continents, to bring researchers, students, and tourists into the tree canopy. Lowman organized international conferences to bring attention to biodiversity, build partnerships across national borders, and train the next generation of canopy explorers. In this memoir, she takes readers along as she meets biologists and ecologists and studies forests around the world. She also relates ongoing rampant racial and gender discrimination in science careers.
VERDICT Lowman connects her life to her research in chronological chapters, interspersed with short histories of various tree species. A highly engaging read for fans of popular science or ecology titles, and budding (or experienced) scientists.
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