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Vertical distribution and ecology of vascular epiphytes in a lowland tropical rain forest of Brazil

Author(s): Edwin Theodoor Pos | Adrianus David Michel Sleegers

Journal: Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi : Ciências Naturais
ISSN 1981-8114

Volume: 5;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 335;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Brazil | Lowland Tropical Rain Forest | Community structure | Vertical zonation | Alpha diversity | Vascular epiphytes

In this study we investigated the vertical distribution and ecology of vascular epiphytes. Ten trees were sampled within the Brazilian National Forest of Caxiuanã, Brazil, using single rope climbing techniques. In total, 476 epiphyte individuals were sampled distributed over 60 species and 19 families. Alpha diversity (Fisher’s alpha) of the vascular epiphytes was 18.16. Trees were divided into six separate height zones, species and families were distributed in a clear vertical zonation pattern which was confirmed by both a Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) and Weighted Averaging (WA). Araceae and Orchidaceae showed a similar pattern to sites in Guyana and French Guiana. However, the Pteridophyte/Angiosperm ratio was far higher and no Bromeliaceae were found. Furthermore, trees in the study area appeared to contain a relative small number of epiphytes; nevertheless, overall species richness was relatively high. Only one species (Elaphoglossum styriacum Mickel) appeared to be a true indicator species for a specific height zone, because this species had far more sampled individuals. Other species could not be considered as indicator species, because they were far less abundant.

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