Forest light and its in uence on habitat selection

  • Th M
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Light filtered through the forest canopy is the most variable physical factor in tropical forests, both in space and time.Vegetation geometry, sun angle, andweather generate five light environments,which greatly differ in intensity and spectrum. Forest light spectra can directly affect photosynthesis, plant morphogenesis, visual communication, and the effectiveness of plant-animal interactions. For animals, the apparent simplicity of five light environments is complicated by different types of contrast with the optical background which greatly modify the conspicuousness of visual signals. The purpose of this paper is to describe peculiarities of light in tropical forest, and to review the effects of light intensity and especially quality on plants and animals. Ecophysiological adaptations of plants to cope with contrasting light environments operate at daily, seasonal and life time-scales. Ambient light quality acts as a signal for both animals and plants, and consequences on plant growth, colour display, and signal design are examined. An analysis of the range of spectral parameters along a deforestation gradient is presented, testing if siteswith more variation in light could supportmore specieswhich are light-environmentspecialists. It is suggested that light quality measurement may be used to estimate the structural impact of forest exploitation, and that gives us the information necessary for a functional explanation of anthropogenic effects on tropical forest diversity. Introduction

Author-supplied keywords

  • niche differentiation
  • species divergence
  • tropical forest
  • visual communication

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  • Marc Th

  • Marc Th

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