Old conifer forests in the Pacific Northwest have a wide range of microhabitats induced by canopy structure and substrate characteristics. We used the Wind River Canopy Crane to sample lichens and bryophytes throughout the spectrum of habitats available to epiphytes. Of the 111 species found in 72 sample units, 97 were lichens and 14 were bryophytes. Epiphyte communities showed marked variation with respect to height in the canopy, bark vs. wood, degree of sheltering, and stem diameter. Of these factors, height in the canopy was most strongly related to epiphyte communities. Furthermore, the top two meters of the tallest trees hosted a diverse assemblage of both rare species (Tholurna dissimilis) and weedy, nitrophilous species (Candelaria concolor, Hypogymnia tubulosa, Parmelia sulcata), presumably induced by birds delivering lichen propagules and nutrients. Ten species were more frequent on bare wood than bark, including Ophioparma rubricosa, Letharia vulpina, Placynthiella spp., Ptychographa xylographoides, Trapeliopsis flexuosa, and Xylographa parallela. Species richness was highly variable, even within habitats. The only factor found related to species richness was height in the canopy, the middle and upper layers each having about twice the species per sample unit as lower in the canopy.
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