The Spectral Distribution of Radiation in Two Neotropical Rainforests

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The spectral quality of radiation in the understory of two neotropical rainforests, Barro Colorado Island in Panama and La Selva in Costa Rica, is profoundly affected by the density of the canopy. Understory light conditions in both forests bear similar spectral characteristics. In both the greatest changes in spectral quality occur at low flux densities, as in the transition from extreme shade to small light flecks. Change in spectral quality, as assessed by the red: far-red (R:FR) ratio, the ratio of radiant energy 400-700: 300-1100 nm, and the ratio of quantum flux density 400-700:300-1100 nm, is strongly correlated with a drop in percentage of solar radiation as measurable by a quantum radiometer. Thus, by knowing the percentage of photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) in relation to full sunlight, it is possible to estimate the spectral quality in the forest at a particular time and microsite.

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