Annals of Botany

Canopy structure and conifer dominance in rainforests

Canopy structure and conifer dominance in rainforests
Canopy structure and conifer dominance in rainforests

Globally, conifer dominance is restricted to cold and nutrient-poor habitats, probably due to competition for light with angiosperms. Aiba et al. use a ground-based, portable light detection and ranging (LIDAR) system to quantify canopy structure of evergreen rainforests with varying dominance of conifers on tropical and subtropical mountains. They find that forests with higher conifer dominance show a canopy height profile more skewed towards the understorey and usually have a more undulating outer canopy surface. This suggests that a sparser upper canopy at high altitudes and/or on poor soils allows the shade-intolerant conifers to co-occur with angiosperm trees, either as emergents or as co-dominants in the open canopy.