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1 March 2003 Low-Trunk Epiphytic Ferns on Tree Ferns Versus Angiosperms in Costa Rica
Robbin C. Moran, Susan Klimas, Mónica Carlsen
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We studied the occurrence of epiphytic ferns on the lower trunks of two kinds of hosts: tree ferns and angiosperms. The study was conducted in Costa Rica at the La Selva Biological Field Station (50 m elev.), Las Cruces Biological Field Station (1200 m), Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (1500 m), and Cuericí Biological Field Station (2600 m). At each site, 20 tree fern trunks with a root mantle were sampled for epiphytes up to a height of 3 m, and the same was done for the nearest angiosperm trunk of similar diameter at breast height (DBH). A total of 106 species of epiphytic ferns was found at all of the study sites; none occurred more frequently on angiosperm trunks, but 11 occurred more frequently on tree ferns. Seven of the 11 species were entirely restricted to tree ferns, whereas the other 4 also occurred on angiosperms. Tree ferns had a significantly higher number of epiphytic species than angiosperms, averaging (depending on the site) 3–5 species, whereas angiosperms averaged 1 or 2. Epiphytic ferns were more abundant on tree ferns than on angiosperms. No correlation existed, for tree ferns or for angiosperms, between DBH and species richness or percent cover of fern epiphytes. In conclusion, low-trunk fern epiphytes exhibited significant differences on tree fern versus angiosperm in regard to species composition, number of species per trunk, and percent cover. The differences probably were caused by the root mantles providing more favorable microhabitats for the establishment of fern prothalli and a better substrate for the attachment of fern sporophytes.

Robbin C. Moran, Susan Klimas, and Mónica Carlsen "Low-Trunk Epiphytic Ferns on Tree Ferns Versus Angiosperms in Costa Rica," BIOTROPICA 35(1), 48-56, (1 March 2003).[0048:LEFOTF]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 March 2003

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Costa Rica
host tree preference
root mantle
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