A mature Weinmannia mariquitae tree that constituted part ofthe upper canopy layer and
its epiphytic load were examined to determine the composition and importance ofthese two compartments
in the forest ecosystem.
Extrapolation from this specimen and two other trees representing the relatively epiphyte-free middle
and lower stories indicated that 44 tons ha- 1 of epiphytic biomass and suspended soil, a quantity that
exceeds by at least three fold that reported from other sites, occurs in the studied Colombian rain forest.
Epiphytic materials equivalent to 12% ofthe biomass ofthe W. mariquitae specimen, a higher proportion
than any previously recorded, was present on this single phorophyte. Additionally, green biomass produced
by epiphytes (ca. 20 kg dry wt) exceeded that of their support by one third. This tree and its associated
epiphytic load contained 2,360 g N, 215 g P, 1,350 g K and 99 g Ca of which 51, 58, 80 and 72%,
respectively, were present in the phorophyte. Water extractable P was concentrated in higher levels in the
suspended than in the terrestrial soil. Unprecedented accumulations of dead vegetation and living bryophytes present in the canopy ofthis forest are promoted by low temperatures, continuous high humidity,
low air turbulence, and certain aspects offorest structure. Low concentrations ofcertain nutrients in living
foliage at the site appear to reflect the generally oligotrophic conditions that in part are imposed by slow
mineralization of organic matter. However, the amounts of nutrient capital and green tissue present in
suspended biomass and its location in the canopy insures a substantial role in the overall nutrient economy
and productivity ofthe inclusive forest ecosystem.
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