Vertical Distribution of Vascular Epiphytes in Four Forest Types of the Serranía de Chiribiquete, Colombian Guayana


Colombian Guayana
phorophyte structure
spatial distribution
vascular epiphytes

How to Cite

Arevalo, R., & Betancur, J. (2006). Vertical Distribution of Vascular Epiphytes in Four Forest Types of the Serranía de Chiribiquete, Colombian Guayana. Selbyana, 27(2), 175–185. Retrieved from


The spatial distribution of vascular epiphytes was studied in four forest types in the southeast region of the Chiribiquete National Park, Colombian Guayana. The authors identified the forest types as seasonally flooded forest or várzea (SF), nonflooded forest or tierra firme (TF), varillar forest (V), and transition forest (T). In each forest type, 500 m² were sampled, including all vascular epiphytes on phorophytes with dbh (diameter at breast height) ≥ 2.5 cm. A total of 2016 epiphytes were recorded, corresponding to 182 species, 71 genera, and 27 families. The results show that the spatial distribution of epiphytes was different in each forest type, mainly as the result of structural differences among the phorophytes, but humidity and light conditions also were factors. In all four forests, a positive correlation was found between the number of epiphytes hosted by the phorophytes and their dbh. Also a positive correlation existed between the number of epiphytes and the total height of the phorophytes in SF, TF, and T. Most of the phorophytes had few epiphytes; only in SF did 20% of phorophytes host more than ten epiphytes. The higher humidity of SF, caused by its proximity to the river and periodical flooding, may explain the abundance and complexity of the epiphyte community. In all forest types, the vertical distribution of epiphytes was clumped for the community in general, as well as for most families and species. Epiphyte type, either autotroph (holoepiphytes and hemiepiphytes) or heterotroph (hemiparasites), appeared to be a determining factor in the spatial location of the species and in the stratification that some families showed. Se estudio la distribución espacial de las epífitas vasculares en cuatro tipos de bosques del sureste de la Serranía de Chiribiquete, Guayana colombiana. Los bosques estudiados se denominaron como: bosque inundable de rebalse (SF), bosque de tierra firme (TF), bosque de varillar (V), y bosque de transición (T). En cada tipo de bosque se muestreó 500 m², en los cuales se censaron todas las epífitas vasculares presentes en forofitos con DAP ≥ 2.5 cm. Se encontraron 2016 individuos epífitos en total, correspondientes a 182 especies, 71 géneros, y 27 familias. La distribución espacial de las epífitas fue diferente en cada bosque, debido principalmente a las diferencias estructurales de los forofitos y a la humedad e intensidad lumínica que se presenta en cada bosque. En todos los bosques se presentaron correlaciones positivas entre el número de epífitas hospedadas y el DAP de los forofitos, así como con la altura total de los forofitos en SF, TF, y T. La mayoría de los forofitos presentaron muy pocas epifitas y solamente en SF el 20% de los forofitos presentó más de diez epífitas. La alta humedad en SF, dada por la proximidad al río y las inundaciones periódicas a las que está sometido el bosque, parecen explicar la mayor abundancia y complejidad de la comunidad de epífitas. En todos los tipos de bosques se encontró una distribución vertical agregada de las epífitas para la comunidad en general y para la mayor parte de las familias y especies. El tipo de epifita, autótrofas (holoepífitas y hemiepífitas) o heterótrofas (hemiparásitas), fue determinante en la ubicación espacial de las especies y en la estratificación mostrada por algunas familias.


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