Research Topic

Understanding Patterns and Mechanisms of Forest Canopy Diversity and Ecosystem Functions in a Changing World

About this Research Topic

The canopy is the defining component of any forest ecosystem, providing an essential interface between the atmosphere and the earth. It harbors a large share of global biodiversity and is vitally important for ecosystem functions and services. The canopy, however, is not readily accessible and, as a result, progress in understanding the ecology of forest canopies has typically been limited. With increased research interest combined with the development of new technologies and infrastructure, such as remote sensing and global canopy crane networks, there have been recent advances in canopy science. Canopy science is now undergoing an exciting evolution with diverse approaches spanning traditional descriptive studies to experimental manipulations.

Despite substantial advances in our understanding of canopy ecology, many critical knowledge gaps remain. Forest canopies form vertically stratified ecosystems, but we know little about the vertical stratification of microclimate, species and genetic diversity across multiple scales. Studies of entomofauna, for example, demonstrated that the canopies held higher species richness, and vertical stratification of biodiversity is consistent across both elevation and latitude. These studies, however, are taxonomically and spatially biased and temporal dynamics of vertical stratification is little known. Understanding the interactions among many species in complex forest canopies is challenging, and limited number of studies have so far revealed highly complex trophic links of certain food webs (e.g., plant-herbivore and pollination networks). It is essential that we engage both observational and experimental approaches to better understand the mechanisms that form verticality in diversity and ecosystem processes. In the face of global-scale human disturbances, we must establish our basic understanding of diversity and ecosystem processes in the forest canopies so that we can improve our predictive abilities on how forest ecosystems will respond to human disturbances at multiple scales.

This Research Topic covers a wide range of topics associated with microclimates, microhabitats, biodiversity, ecosystem processes and their interactions among the forest canopies at various spatial and temporal scales. The studies presented here will showcase our advances in canopy science and provide a prelude for the upcoming 8th International Canopy Conference which will be held in Xishuangbanna, China from the 13th to 16th October 2021. Here we call for papers on the following topics:

• Vertical stratification of microclimates and microhabitats and their interactions with forest biodiversity and ecosystem processes;
• Temporal and spatial dynamics of forest canopy biodiversity and ecosystem processes;
• Food-webs and assembly processes in forest canopies;
• Impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on forest canopy diversity and ecosystem processes.

We invite authors who are working in the relevant fields to submit review or original research articles to this Research Topic.


Keywords: Community Assembly, Food Web, Herbivory, Predation, Species Interaction, Trophic Network, Population Dynamics, Vertical Stratification


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The canopy is the defining component of any forest ecosystem, providing an essential interface between the atmosphere and the earth. It harbors a large share of global biodiversity and is vitally important for ecosystem functions and services. The canopy, however, is not readily accessible and, as a result, progress in understanding the ecology of forest canopies has typically been limited. With increased research interest combined with the development of new technologies and infrastructure, such as remote sensing and global canopy crane networks, there have been recent advances in canopy science. Canopy science is now undergoing an exciting evolution with diverse approaches spanning traditional descriptive studies to experimental manipulations.

Despite substantial advances in our understanding of canopy ecology, many critical knowledge gaps remain. Forest canopies form vertically stratified ecosystems, but we know little about the vertical stratification of microclimate, species and genetic diversity across multiple scales. Studies of entomofauna, for example, demonstrated that the canopies held higher species richness, and vertical stratification of biodiversity is consistent across both elevation and latitude. These studies, however, are taxonomically and spatially biased and temporal dynamics of vertical stratification is little known. Understanding the interactions among many species in complex forest canopies is challenging, and limited number of studies have so far revealed highly complex trophic links of certain food webs (e.g., plant-herbivore and pollination networks). It is essential that we engage both observational and experimental approaches to better understand the mechanisms that form verticality in diversity and ecosystem processes. In the face of global-scale human disturbances, we must establish our basic understanding of diversity and ecosystem processes in the forest canopies so that we can improve our predictive abilities on how forest ecosystems will respond to human disturbances at multiple scales.

This Research Topic covers a wide range of topics associated with microclimates, microhabitats, biodiversity, ecosystem processes and their interactions among the forest canopies at various spatial and temporal scales. The studies presented here will showcase our advances in canopy science and provide a prelude for the upcoming 8th International Canopy Conference which will be held in Xishuangbanna, China from the 13th to 16th October 2021. Here we call for papers on the following topics:

• Vertical stratification of microclimates and microhabitats and their interactions with forest biodiversity and ecosystem processes;
• Temporal and spatial dynamics of forest canopy biodiversity and ecosystem processes;
• Food-webs and assembly processes in forest canopies;
• Impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on forest canopy diversity and ecosystem processes.

We invite authors who are working in the relevant fields to submit review or original research articles to this Research Topic.


Keywords: Community Assembly, Food Web, Herbivory, Predation, Species Interaction, Trophic Network, Population Dynamics, Vertical Stratification


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

18 January 2021 Abstract
18 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

18 January 2021 Abstract
18 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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