The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI) in Panama, is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution based outside of the United States, is dedicated to understanding biological diversity.
What began in 1923 as small field station on Barro Colorado Island, in the Panama Canal Zone, has developed into one of the leading research institutions of the world. STRI’s facilities provide a unique opportunity for long-term ecological studies in the tropics, and are used extensively by some 900 visiting scientists from academic and research institutions in the United States and around the world every year. The work of our resident scientists has allowed us to better understand tropical habitats and has trained hundreds of tropical biologists.
STRI aims to offer research facilities that allow staff scientists, fellows, and visiting scientists to achieve their research objectives. The 38 staff scientists reside in the tropics and are encouraged to pursue their own research priorities without geographic limitations. The continuity of their long-term programs enables in-depth investigations that attract an elite group of fellows and visitors. Active support for fellows and visitors leverages resources further and attracts more than 900 scientists to STRI each year.
Although STRI is based in Panama, research is conducted throughout the tropics. STRI's Center for Tropical Forest Science uses large, fully enumerated forest plots to monitor tree demography in 14 countries located in Africa, Asia and the Americas. More than 3,000,000 individual trees representing 6,000 species are being studied. STRI's Biological Diversity of Forest Fragments project created experimental forest fragments of 0.01, 0.1, and 1.0 km 2 to study the consequences of landscape transformation on forest integrity in the central Amazon region. STRI marine scientists are conducting a global survey of levels of genetic isolation in coral reef organisms.