Canopy structure means: (1) the whole of the vegetation community including species, number, leaf area, and leaf history; (2) its spatial organization, horizontal and vertical arrangement; and (3) its time progression (season, year, decade, and more). Then geometric complexities of different canopies are reduced to a simple quantification of the sum of all leaf layers as LAI.
The vertical distribution of LAI in mixed canopies reflects the functional abilities of species or leaves (shade, air humidity, and temperature tolerance). LAI controls both within- and below-canopy microclimate, determines and controls rainfall, snow and deposition interception, radiation extinction, wind velocity slackening, light quality and quantity below the canopy, and hence influences the living conditions of fungi, plants, insects, macro- and micro-fauna communities.
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