Biodiversity in a box Biodiversity in a box Biodiversity in a Box

Nature photographer David Liittschwager captures life in one cubic foot of space.

Photo by David Liittschwager | March 2022

A few years ago, nature photographer David Liittschwager set out to capture life in one cubic foot of space. He crafted a stainless steel rod frame, painted it bright green and took it to eight different ecosystems around the globe to show how so much of the world’s biodiversity occurs at small scales. Working with scientists, he measured and photographed what went through each cube over the course of a day.

Exploring the forest canopy in Costa Rica, he turned to forest ecologist Nalini Nadkarni, ’83, at her study site in Cloud Forest. What he found was wondrous—145 species of birds, mammals, bromeliads and other creatures and plants.

Now the project is a Smithsonian Organization traveling exhibit. The highly visual, interactive experience is on view at the Burke Museum through July.