12.4 Forest production

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Tree canopies cast shadows, especially on clear days, indicating absorption of radiant energy. Averaged over space and time, the photosynthetically active component of that energy is gainfully employed and drives growth. Acquisition of energy and carbon by plants is thus determined by total leaf area, leaf surface distribution within the canopy and photosynthetic capacity of individual leaves. Productivity will ultimately depend on distribution of photosynthetic performance throughout the canopy as a whole, which in turn is determined by the photosynthetic capacity of individual leaves and distribution of sunlight.