Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in the Republic of Panama collect and analyze data for use in studies on coral bleaching and the fluctuations in ocean temperatures that is known as the El Niño phenomenon. Recent studies by STRI researchers have revealed that coral reefs contain on average nearly five times as many species as had previously been realized. STRI is perhaps most widely known for discovering that sex change is quite normal for coral reef fishes.

Spectacled Caiman

A spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodiles) patrols a salty pond at the Smithsonian Institution’s research station in Bocas del Toro, Panama. A bony ridge between its eyes gives it the appearance of wearing glasses—and its...

Mangrove Tree Crab

A mangrove tree crab ( Aratus pisonii ) clings to a leaf near the Smithsonian Institution’s marine laboratory on Galeta Island, Panama, part of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute . During high tide, the crabs climb...

Field Research in Panama

At the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Dr. Wayne Sousa (right) studies how gaps in the canopy caused by lightning help mangrove forests regenerate. More about mangroves can be found in our Mangroves...