Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (12): 23363.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2023363

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Research progress and prospects of forest canopy science based on canopy cranes

Song Liang1,*(), Wu Yi1, Hu Haixia1,2, Liu Wenyao1, Nakamura Akihiro1, Chen Yajun1, Ma Keping3   

  1. 1 CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2023-09-26 Accepted:2023-10-31 Online:2023-12-20 Published:2023-11-30
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Background & Aims: Forest canopies are one of the most species-rich habitats in the biosphere. However, the biodiversity, structure, and functional and ecological processes of the forest canopies remain understudied because of the three-dimensional spatial complexity of forests and the limitation of canopy access techniques. Canopy cranes have begun to close this gap by making canopies more accessible. Using canopy cranes, a series of research programs such as Investigating the Biodiversity of Soil and Canopy Arthropods (IBISCA), Tropical Canopy Biology Program (TCBP), Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE), and canopy warming experiments have been launched. These programs address the fundamental questions in biology, such as “how many species are there”, “where are they”, and “how do they respond to the changing environment”.

Progress: This review first introduces canopy access techniques and the history of their development. Secondly, it summarizes the research progress of canopy research programs facilitated by canopy cranes with respect to the three aspects: biodiversity patterns, ecological processes in the forest canopies, and their responses and adaptations to global change. Finally, it addresses the important implications of canopy research programs including major discoveries driven by canopy access technologies, main research frameworks, and the regionalism and limitations of forest canopy science.

Prospects: It is proposed that future canopy research should pay attention to the overall ecological structure and processes of the three continuous forest strata (canopy, understory, and soil). Multi-dimensional, global-scale data are needed to elucidate biodiversity patterns, ecological processes and their maintenance mechanisms, and the responses of forest canopies to multi-scale and multifaceted anthropogenic impacts through the integration of multivariate data from heterogeneous sources and artificial intelligence technology.

Key words: canopy crane, canopy ecology, biodiversity, ecological process, global change