Comparative Canopy Biology and the Structure of Ecosystems

  • Mark W. Moffett


The way ecologists think about canopy biology as a scientific discipline could lead them to overlook different communities of spatially fixed organisms that may have properties usefully compared to or contrasted with forest canopies. This chapter represents a series of discussions and reviews on the possible nature and limits of canopy biology and introduces the prospect of a general comparative science of biological canopies.


Architecture Biofilm Biodiversity Biomechanics Coral reef• Epiphyte Kelp Periphyton Rhizosphere Stratification 



I published Moffett (2001) in an up-and-coming journal for canopy research that unfortunately folded. I thank Margaret (“Meg”) Lowman, who, after I talked about this subject for the 2009 International Canopy Conference in Bangalore, gave me the chance to update the article here, so that it can come before a new audience. Luckily, I was able to contact many of the people who advised me on the first version. Although doubtless I missed a few things, I found that little has been done in the last decade on the issues I raise, except for the burgeoning research on biofilms. For assistance with the philosophy of discipline formation, I thank Mary Catherine Bateson, David L. Hull, Peter Harries-Jones, George Lakoff, Paul Ryan, and Carol Wilder; for thoughts on trees, forests, and the dimensionality of canopies, David Ackerly, Timothy F.H. Allen, Robert G. Bailey, Dennis Baldocchi, Frans Bongers, James H. Brown, Jerome Chave, Joel Clement, Raphael Didham, Brian J. Enquist, Stephen P. Ellner, Thomas J. Givnish, Juan Gouda, Paul G. Jarvis, David King, Steve Lindberg, Richard Law, Orie Loucks, Margaret Lowman, Gary Lovett, Jonathan Majer, Lauri Oksanen, Karl J. Niklas, John M. Norman, Geoffrey Parker, Serguei Ponomarenko, Hank H. Shugart, Jonathan Silvertown, Anthony R.E. Sinclair, Frank Sterck, Steven Sutton, Bastow Wilson, Neville Winchester, and Truman Young; for information on roots, Peter W. Barlow, Jan Čermák, Hans de Kroon, A. Roland Ennos, Lewis Feldman, Roman Gebauer, Robert B. Jackson, Donald R. Kaplan, Takashi Kohyama, Krista Lõhmus, Jonathan Lynch, Liesje Mommer, John Moore, James H. Richards, Wim van der Putten, Fernando Tuya, and Yoav Waisel; and for views on algal, bacterial, coral reef, and other canopies, Mohammad A Al-Najjar, Yves Basset, David Benzing, James D. Bryers, Robert C. Carpenter, the late and great J. William Costerton, Paul Dayton, Dirk de Beer, Phil DeVries, Peg Dirckx, Michael Dolan, David Duggins, Michael Franklin, Elizabeth Gladfelter, Ken Heck, Brian Helmuth, Helmut Hillebrand, Walter R. Hill, Mark Hixon, Bo Barker Jørgensen, Ronald H. Karlson, Mimi Koehl, Michael Kühl, Scott Larned, Steven E. Lindow, Rex L. Lowe, my recently deceased friend Lynn Margulis, Susan Merkel, Peter J. Morin, Cindy Morris, James W. Porter, Jennifer H. Richards, Kenneth P. Sebens, Vaclav Smil, Robert S. Steneck, Valerie Behan-Pelletier, Alice Tangerini, Chantal Vis, Martin Wahl, and Susan L. Williams. Lapses in coverage and logic can be attributed to me.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian InstitutionWashington, DCUSA

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