Mechanistic information about tropical canopy function is emerging at the leaf, tree, stand and landscape levels. With improved canopy access, comprehensive data are accumulating about seasonal and spatial variation in light, temperature and humidity, and corresponding variation in leaf carbon gain and water loss. At the whole-plant level, simultaneous measurements at different spatial scales have revealed the role of boundary layer dynamics in regulating transpiration. Emergent properties of canopy function are being explored through models that integrate leaf and landscape-level exchange processes. Integration of exchange processes that include functional diversity at different scales has the potential to validate regional estimates of gas exchange, which are critical to our understanding of the role of tropical forests in global atmospheric carbon balance.
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