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A protocol for sampling vascular epiphyte richness and abundance

  • Jan H. D. Wolf (a1), S. Robbert Gradstein (a2) and Nalini M. Nadkarni (a3)


The sampling of epiphytes is fraught with methodological difficulties. We present a protocol to sample and analyse vascular epiphyte richness and abundance in forests of different structure (SVERA). Epiphyte abundance is estimated as biomass by recording the number of plant components in a range of size cohorts. Epiphyte species biomass is estimated on 35 sample-trees, evenly distributed over six trunk diameter-size cohorts (10 trees with dbh > 30 cm). Tree height, dbh and number of forks (diameter > 5 cm) yield a dimensionless estimate of the size of the tree. Epiphyte dry weight and species richness between forests is compared with ANCOVA that controls for tree size. SChao1 is used as an estimate of the total number of species at the sites. The relative dependence of the distribution of the epiphyte communities on environmental and spatial variables may be assessed using multivariate analysis and Mantel test. In a case study, we compared epiphyte vegetation of six Mexican oak forests and one Colombian oak forest at similar elevation. We found a strongly significant positive correlation between tree size and epiphyte richness or biomass at all sites. In forests with a higher diversity of host trees, more trees must be sampled. Epiphyte biomass at the Colombian site was lower than in any of the Mexican sites; without correction for tree size no significant differences in terms of epiphyte biomass could be detected. The occurrence of spatial dependence, at both the landscape level and at the tree level, shows that the inclusion of spatial descriptors in SVERA is justified.


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A protocol for sampling vascular epiphyte richness and abundance

  • Jan H. D. Wolf (a1), S. Robbert Gradstein (a2) and Nalini M. Nadkarni (a3)


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