Sampling Methods for Vascular Epiphytes: Their Effectiveness in Recording Species Richness and Frequency


canopy access
vascular epiphyte inventory
species richness
species accumulation functions
cloud forest

How to Cite

Flores-Palacios, A., & García-Franco, J. (2001). Sampling Methods for Vascular Epiphytes: Their Effectiveness in Recording Species Richness and Frequency. Selbyana, 22(2), 181–191. Retrieved from


Vascular epiphytes are an important component of tropical biodiversity; however, because of problems associated with accessing them, it is hard to obtain a complete species inventory. It is faster and safer to make ground-based observations of epiphytes than it is to collect data using climbing techniques, but the quality of the observations may be suspect. To compare ground-based observations and observations based on climbing, we recorded epiphytic species present in three types of vegetation: remnant trees in pasture, a forest corridor along a brook, and a closed forest. Using species accumulation functions, we predicted total species richness and the sampling effort to determine it. Ground-based observations underestimated epiphytic species richness, but this underestimation was independent of vegetation structure and tree size. The number of epiphytic species recorded with climbing-based observations increased by 16.3- 23.3% over the number recorded with ground-based observations. Such observations underestimated species frequency and could indicate that a species is rare when it is not. Species accumulation models fitted to ground-based data failed to predict species richness correctly. If fitted to climbing-based observations, however, they could predict the richness and sampling effort for a complete species inventory. Our study demonstrated the limitations and problems of ground-based epiphyte observations for species inventories.


Open Access and Copyright Notice


Selbyana is committed to real and immediate open access for academic work. All of Selbyana's articles and reviews are free to access immediately upon publication. There are no author charges (APCs) prior to publication, and no charges for readers to download articles and reviews for their own scholarly use.  To facilitate this, Selbyana depends on the financial backing of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, the hard work and dedication of its editorial team and advisory board, and the continuing support of its network of peer reviewers and partner institutions.

Authors are free to choose which open license they would like to use for their work. Our default license is the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC BY-NC 4.0). While Selbyana’s articles can be copied by anyone for noncommercial purposes if proper credit is given, all materials are published under an open-access license with authors retaining full and permanent ownership of their work. The author grants Selbyana a perpetual, non-exclusive right to publish the work and to include it in other aggregations and indexes to achieve broader impact and visibility.

Authors are responsible for and required to ascertain that they are in possession of image rights for any and all photographs, illustrations, and figures included in their work or to obtain publication or reproduction rights from the rights holders. Contents of the journal will be registered with the Directory of Open Access Journals and similar repositories. Authors are encouraged to store their work elsewhere, for instance in institutional repositories or personal websites, including commercial sites such as, to increase circulation (see The Effects of Open Access).