Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]




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Publication Date

August 2008


Many studies have been done regarding vascular epiphyte communities in the tropics, however all of the previous studies have neglected the canopy branch tips due to their limited accessibility (Nieder et al. 2004, Freiberg and Freiberg 2000, Zotz et al. 1999, Hietz 1997, Freiberg 1996, Ingram and Nadkarni 1993). The purpose of this study was to evaluate differences in family richness, and diversity of previously unstudied branch tip epiphyte communities vs. those of secondary branch bases. Data were gathered about community composition of vascular epiphyte families and climbers on the branch tips of canopy trees in a Neotropical, lower montane rainforest in Costa Rica. Branches were accessed from suspension bridges ranging from 32-65 m, in Selvatura Park, Costa Rica. The number of individuals from each family and total branch area covered by each family were recorded. Branch tip and base communities were compared using S, H’, E, N, and Smarg parameters (Magurran 1988), and diversity indices were compared using a t-test. Additionally a pair-wise comparison was carried out on each branch base and tip pair using a sign test (Ambrose et al. 2002). Counts of number of individuals per family were deemed to be inaccurate due to the difficulty in identifying individual ferns. As such, coverage area data were used to draw conclusions. Branch tips (H’ = 0.27) were found to have a significantly higher diversity than branch bases (H’ = 0.71) (p-value < 0.001). However, branch bases were found to have a significantly higher family richness even when differences in abundance were controlled for. It was noted that almost all branches surveyed showed high dominance of the Division Pteridophyta on both branch bases and tips. Future studies of epiphyte communities in canopy branch tips should address the issue of identifying individual ferns when root systems are covered in humus and bryophyte mats, as was observed in this study. Muchos estudios se han hecho con respecto a las comunidades de epífitas vasculares en los trópicos, no obstante todos los estudios anteriores han descuidado las puntas de las ramas en el dosel debido a su limitada accesibilidad (Nieder et al 2004, Freiberg y Freiberg 2000, Zotz et al. 1999, Hietz 1997, Freiberg 1996, Ingram y Nadkarni 1993). El propósito de este estudio fue evaluar las diferencias en la riqueza de las familias, y la diversidad de las comunidades de epifitas en las puntas de las ramas del dosel, contra los de las bases secundarias de la rama.


Ephiphytes--Ecology, Epifitas--Ecologia, Cloud forest ecology, Ecologia del bosque nuboso, Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone, Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde, CIEE Summer 2008, CIEE Verano 2008


Student affiliation : Department of Biology, Oregon State University Born Digital

Subject: topical

Ephiphytes--Ecology; Epifitas--Ecologia; Cloud forest ecology; Ecologia del bosque nuboso; CIEE Summer 2008; CIEE Verano 2008

Subject: geographic

Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone; Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde



Holding Location

Monteverde Institute MVI



Family richness and diversity of vascular epiphytes and climbers in the canopy of a lower montane wet forest, Costa Rica



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