Modeling canopy structure and heterogeneity across scales: From crowns to canopy

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Canopy studies have been limited in ecological investigations due to problems of canopy accessibility, and the lack of efficient sampling and modeling methods. The primary objective of this study was to develop an efficient modeling approach to describe the 3-dimensional, hierarchical structure of individual crown shells within stands and corresponding canopy patches. Crown shells were modeled based on crown ratio, maximum cardinal radius, vertical position, and shape, Canopies were represented by adding unique crowns to simulated point patterns of trees of known aggregation as measured by Pielou's index of nonrandomness. Canopy patches were delineated at multiple horizontal and vertical scales using the ARC/INFO geographic infomation system (GIS). The patterns of canopy patches are clearly variable and scale dependent. Canopy patterns become more diverse at broader horizontal scales, and change greatly from the lower to the upper canopies. The modeling approach used in this study has general utility in characterizing 3-dimensional canopies of many types of forests.

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Forest Ecology and Management