Many epiphytes in forest canopies are drought-adapted due to the limited water-holding capacity ofthe aboveground woody surfaces that support them. The objective ofour study was to evaluate whether neighboring tropical rainforest canopy trees differentially intercept inclined rainfall, and discuss the possible effects on epiphyte distribution patterns. The study involved: (1) developing a computer model representing the 3-D geometry ofa tropical rainforest canopy surface in northeast Queensland, Australia, using photogrammetric crown elevation data and a geographic information system; (2) generating a shaded canopy reliefimage to compute the effective rainfall-intercepting crown areas of50 selected canopy trees during a single precipitation event; and (3) analyzing the relationships between the selected trees' effective crown areas and the net rainfall totals measured beneath their crowns. A significant correlation between the effective crown areas and net rainfall totals indicated that the inclined rainfall was differentially intercepted, with the more prominent canopy trees creating rainshadows on less prominent neighboring canopy trees. It has been generally assumed that the vertically projected crown areas ofcanopy trees intercept the same depth equivalent ofprecipitation. The results ofour study suggest that rainforest canopy trees in the cyclone-prone tropics do not receive the same depth equivalents ofmean annual rainfall. We conclude that the differential interception ofrainfall may influence the spatial pattern ofwater availability and thus the distribution ofepiphytes in a forest canopy
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