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C. New Sensors Used to Study Redwoods

Narrator: This is Science Today. Until recently, fear of heights was not an option for the biologists studying redwood trees at the University of California, Berkeley. For years, these intrepid climbers have installed heavy gear onto trees that are over 300 feet tall, but today, with the introduction of miniature wireless sensor networks, researchers can stay on the ground while the redwood trees go high tech. David Culler, a professor of computer science, explains.

Culler: The redwood tree is a big enough organism that it has an entire ecosystem within it. And they really would like a volumetric picture of everything that is going on in there.

Narrator: In order to get this broader picture, Culler has teamed up with the UC Botanical Gardens to install fifty lightweight, non-invasive sensor nodes onto five redwood trees. This network of microsensors will constantly track changes in light, temperature and humidity.

Culler: The redwood tree-it's very complicated. Parts of it are wet, and parts of it are dry, and we don't really know how an organism like that functions. And if we can get this information, then they can go develop models of the organism as a whole.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.