Journal cover Journal topic
Web Ecology An open-access peer-reviewed journal
Journal topic
Volume 3, issue 1
Web Ecol., 3, 1-5, 2002
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-3-1-2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Web Ecol., 3, 1-5, 2002
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-3-1-2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  17 Jan 2002

17 Jan 2002

Canopy gap edge determination and the importance of gap edges for plant diversity

D. Salvador-Van Eysenrode, F. Kockelbergh, J. Bogaert, I. Impens, and P. Van Hecke D. Salvador-Van Eysenrode et al.
  • Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology, Dept. of Biology, Univ. of Antwerp (U.I.A.), Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium

Abstract. Canopy gaps, i.e. openings in the forest cover caused by the fall of structural elements, are considered to be important for the maintenance of diversity and for the forest cycle. A gap can be considered as a young forest patch in the forest matrix, composed of interior surrounded by an edge, both enclosed by a perimeter. Much of the attention has been focused on the gap interior. However, at gap edges the spectrum of regeneration opportunities for plants may be larger than in the interior. Although definitions of gap are still discussed, any definition can describe it in an acceptable way, if justified, but defining edges is complicated and appropriate descriptors should be used. A method to determine gap interior and edge, using light as a descriptor, is presented with an example of gaps from a beech forest (Fagus sylvatica) in Belgium. Also, the relevance and implications of gap edges for plant diversity and calculation of forest turnover is discussed.

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