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Canopy (biology)

Canopy (biology)

In biology, the canopy is the aboveground portion of a plant community or crop, formed by the collection of individual plant crowns.[1][2][3]

In forest ecology, canopy also refers to the upper layer or habitat zone, formed by mature tree crowns and including other biological organisms (epiphytes, lianas, arboreal animals, etc.).[4]

Sometimes the term canopy is used to refer to the extent of the outer layer of leaves of an individual tree or group of trees. Shade trees normally have a dense canopy that blocks light from lower growing plants.

Canopy structure

Canopy structure is the organization or spatial arrangement (three-dimensional geometry) of a plant canopy. Leaf area index (LAI), leaf area per unit ground area, is a key measure used to understand and compare plant canopies. It is also taller than the understory layer. The canopy holds 90% of the animals in the rainforest. They cover vast distances and appear to be unbroken when observed from an airplane. However, despite overlapping tree branches, rainforest canopy trees rarely touch each other. Rather, they are usually separated by a few feet.[5]

Canopy layer of forests

Dominant and co-dominant canopy trees form the uneven canopy layer. Canopy trees are able to photosynthesize relatively rapidly due to abundant light, so it supports the majority of primary productivity in forests. The canopy layer provides protection from strong winds and storms, while also intercepting sunlight and precipitation, leading to a relatively sparsely vegetated understory layer.

Forest canopies are home to unique flora and fauna not found in other layers of forests. The highest terrestrial biodiversity resides in the canopy of tropical rainforests.[6] Many rainforest animals have evolved to live solely in the canopy, and never touch the ground.

The canopy of a rainforest is typically about 10m thick, and intercepts around 95% of sunlight.[7] The canopy is below the emergent layer, a sparse layer of very tall trees, typically one or two per hectare. With an abundance of water and a near ideal temperature in rainforests, light and nutrients are two factors that limit tree growth from the understory to the canopy.

In the permaculture and forest gardening community, the canopy is the highest of seven layers.

See also

  • Canopy (grape)

  • Canopy research

  • Canopy walkway

  • Hemispherical photography

  • Stratification (vegetation)

  • Treefall gap

  • Wildfire

  • Crown shyness

  • Tropical forest

  • Size-asymmetric competition


Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgCampbell, G.S., and J.M. Norman. 1990. The description and measurement of plant canopy structure. pp. 1-19 In: Russell, G., B. Marshall, and P.G. Jarvis (editors). Plant Canopies: Their Growth, Form and Function. Cambridge University Press.
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgMoffett, M.W. 2000. What's up? A critical look at the basic terms of canopy biology. Biotropica 32:569-596.
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgHay, R., and R. Porter. 2006 Physiology of Crop Yield (Second edition). Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-0859-2, ISBN 978-1-4051-0859-1
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgParker, G.G. 1995. Structure and microclimate of forest canopies. pp. 73-106 In: Lowman, M.D. and N.M. Nadkarni (editors). Forest Canopies. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkrainforests.mongabay.comButler, Rhett (July 30, 2012). "The rainforest canopy". Rainforests Mongabay.
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgLowman, M.D. and M.W. Moffett. 1993. The ecology of tropical rain forest canopies. Trees 8:104-107.
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkassoc.garden.org"Light in the Rain Forest". garden.org. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkinternationalcanopynetwork.orgInternational Canopy Access Network
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkrainforests.mongabay.com"The rainforest canopy"
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkassoc.garden.org"Light in the Rain Forest"
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linkinternationalcanopynetwork.orgInternational Canopy Access Network
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM
Citation Linken.wikipedia.orgThe original version of this page is from Wikipedia, you can edit the page right here on Everipedia.Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.Additional terms may apply.See everipedia.org/everipedia-termsfor further details.Images/media credited individually (click the icon for details).
Sep 24, 2019, 2:47 AM