Life History and Demography of a Twig Epiphyte: A Case Study of Erycina crista-galli (Orchidaceae)


coffee plantation
matrix analysis
population dynamics
epiphyte ecology

How to Cite

Mondragon, D., Maldonado, C., & Aguilar-Santelises, R. (2007). Life History and Demography of a Twig Epiphyte: A Case Study of Erycina crista-galli (Orchidaceae). Selbyana, 28(2), 137–144. Retrieved from


Little is known about the life history of twig epiphytes or about the demographical responses they have developed in order to survive in such an oligotrophic and often disturbed environment. In order to develop a model to further the understanding of the demographical adaptations of this type of plant, we present demographic data of Erycina crista-galli, and compare it with other epiphytes. In July 2004 two populations were selected: Unión Roja (UR) and Santo Domingo (SD). 563 individuals were marked in SD and 592 in UR. The survival rates were: 0.439 seedlings, 0.22 juvenile, 0.49 reproductive₁ and 0.49 reproductive₂ for SD and 0.25 seedling, 0.41 juvenile, 0.32 reproductive₁, and 0.45 reproductive₂ for UR. The highest pseudobulb production rates were presented by reproductive₁ in SD (1.47 ± 1.04), and by reproductive₂ in UR (0.94 ± 1.10), while the seedling (0.37 ± 0.26 cm/year SD) was the life stage that showed the highest increase. The fecundities were of 1.00 ± 0.00, and 2.00 ± 0.00 capsules/individual in reproductive, and of 2.00 ± 1.73, and 2.00 ± 2.00 capsules/individual in reproductive₂. Both populations were decreasing (λ = 0.5 SD and λ = 0.398 UR). The highest elasticity values were for r₂ (0.702 SD and 0.324 UR). There was no consistent difference in the elasticity values of fecundity, growth and stasis between E. crista-galli and the other species. The only demographic feature that appears to distinguish twig epiphytic orchids from other epiphytic orchids is the age of sexual maturity.


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