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  1. Introduction.
  2. Definition.
  3. Discovery and exploration.
    1. The naturalist and explorer William Beebe.
    2. The scope and extent of canopy studies.
  4. Modern Canopy access systems.
    1. Methods of access.
    2. Climbing techniques and mechanical methods.
    3. Towers and cranes.
    4. Aerial walkways, platforms, and cable cars.
  5. Selecting an appropriate method.
    1. Life history and biology of the organism.
    2. Spatial extent.
    3. Replication and randomization.
    4. Long-term monitoring,
    5. Impact on the ecosystem.
    6. Logistical constraints.
  6. Canopies as the substrate, buffer, and catalyst for forest dynamics.
    1. Canopy architecture.
    2. Aboveground-belowground dynamics.
    3. The Canopy-atmosphere interface.
  7. The functional importance of forest canopies in global change.
    1. Maintenance of biodiversity.
    2. Sustainability of forest production.
  8. Conclusion.

The word canopy is derived from the Latin conopeum, describing a mosquito net over a bed. For canopy researchers in many tropical and temperate forests, this derivation is all too ?tting. Forest canopies are home to perhaps 50% of all living organisms, many of which are uniquely specialized for life in the treetops and seldom, if ever, venture to the ground below. The canopy is the photosynthetic powerhouse of forest productivity which fuels this spectacular diversity of species. Over 90% of photosynthesis occurs in just the upper 20% of tree crowns. Here, over 60% of the total organic carbon in forests is ?xed and stored, forming an important buffer in the global carbon cycle.

[...] Definition For much of the early development of canopy biology, the nature and limits of forest canopies have been poorly de?ned. In a functional sense, the forest canopy includes all aboveground plant structures and the interstitial spaces between them, which collectively form the interface between the soil and the atmosphere. Historically, there was a tendency to use more subjective de?nitions of the canopy that only included arbitrary portions of the upper foliage of the tallest trees. In practice, however, it has always proven dif?cult to objectively de?ne vertical substrata within forests, from either a structural or functional point of view. [...]

[...] The VCL uses near- infrared wavelength laser pulses ?red at regular intervals at the earth's surface. The time displacement of the re?ected laser signal to the VCL determines the height above ground, with an incredible 30 cm vertical resolution, while the magnitude of signal scatter determines the absolute volume of canopy biomass intercepted by the laser. Already the VCL has produced revolutionary new views of forest canopies that would have taken several lifetimes of ground-based measurements to compile. The measurement of canopy architecture has direct applications in a wide range of disciplines. [...]

[...] Many animals that live in forest canopies play important functional roles in the provision of ecosystem services, like pollination and predation, in forests. Maintenance of intact structure and functioning of forest canopies is likely to facilitate preservation of species that may have bene?cial roles in the sustainability of future forest production. These roles may be as simple as pollinating ?owers that ensure a continued seed supply for reforestation, or as important as dampening the oscillatory dynamics of pest insect populations. [...]

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