Nutrient inputs into tank bromeliads were studied in relation to growth and productivity, and the abundance, diversity and biomass of their animal inhabitants, in three forest types along an elevational gradient. Concentrations of phosphorus, potassium and calcium in canopy-derived debris, and nitrogen and phosphorus in phytotelm water, declined with increasing elevation. Dwarf forest bromeliads contained the smallest amounts of debris/plant and lowest concentrations of nutrients in plant tissue. Their leaf turnover rate and productivity were highest and, because of high plant density, they comprised 12.8% of forest net primary productivity (0.47 t ha−1 y−1), and contained 3.3 t ha−1 of water. Annual nutrient budgets indicated that these microcosms were nutrient-abundant and accumulated < 5% of most nutrients passing through them. Exceptions were K and P in the dwarf forest, where accumulation was c. 25% of inputs. Animal and bromeliad biomass/plant peaked in the intermediate elevation forest, and were positively correlated with the debris content/bromeliad across all forest types. Animal species richness showed a significant mid-elevational peak, whereas abundance was independent of species richness and debris quantities, and declined with elevation as forest net primary productivity declined. The unimodal pattern of species richness was not correlated with nutrient concentrations, and relationships among faunal abundance, species richness, nutrient inputs and environment are too complex to warrant simple generalizations about nutrient resources and diversity, even in apparently simple microhabitats.