Does Tree Height Determine Epiphyte Diversity?


Vascular epiphytes
non-vascular epiphytes
emergent trees

How to Cite

Andersohn, C. (2004). Does Tree Height Determine Epiphyte Diversity?. Selbyana, 25(1), 101–117. Retrieved from


In Central Guatemala, emergent trees and trees with high epiphytic loads (temperate subtropical forest, cloud forest, and evergreen tropical forest) were examined to determine if tree height or emergent status determined high species diversity. Height did not correlate with epiphyte diversity, nor did any of the other examined parameters. Isolated trees, however, in contrast to those in forests supported fewer epiphyte species, although numbers of plants were greater. The emergent trees hosted the most epiphytic life forms, 35% of all rare epiphytic species, and the highest proportion of non-vascular epiphytes. Of the rare epiphytes, 71% were non-vascular species. Emergent trees, therefore, may host the most rare species and the highest life-form diversity. Non-vascular diversity increased as did humidity or dryness. Lichen species diversity apparently depended on specific phorophyte species, on branch strata, and on the emergent status of the host tree. Rare species were correlated with non-vascular species. Microclimate, especially humidity, appeared to be the major determinant of epiphyte diversity in Central Guatemala. En Guatemala árboles sobresalientes y árboles con gran carga de epífitas se examinaron (bosque templado subtropical, bosque nuboso subtropical y bosque tropical siempre verde) para averiguar si es la altura o el hecho de sobresalir el dosel lo que determina alta diversidad. Ni altura fue correlacionado con alta diversidad de epífitas ni ningún otro determinante examinado. Pero los árboles aislados llevaban una diversidad de epífitas más baja en comparación con árboles dentro del bosque, no obstante la cantidad de plantas fue más alta. Los árboles sobresalientes alojan la variedad más alta de formas de vida de epífitas, un 35% de especies raras y el más alto porcentaje de epífitas no vasculares. Un setenta y un porciento de las especies raras son no vasculares. Por esto los árboles sobresalientes representan el potencial más alto de epífitas raras y una alta diversidad de formas de vida de epífitas. La diversidad de briofitas aumenta con un incremento de humedad y de sequía. La diversidad de especies de liqúenes parece depender más de la especie del forofito y de la cantidad de pisos de ramas y el facto de sobresalir el docel del forofito. Especies raras fueron correlacionadas con especies no vasculares. Concluyendo se puede decir que el factor microclimático, especialmente la humedad es el parámetro más importante para determinar la diversidad de epífitas.


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