Dispersal and establishment of vascular epiphytes in modified landscapes

(A) Germination and (B) establishment plots of four Tillandsia species on Anacardium occidentale. Image credit: Einzmann and Zotz.

The ongoing destruction of old-growth forests puts tropical forest species, with epiphytes as a key element, under great pressure. To maintain viable epiphyte communities in fragmented landscapes, remaining habitable patches have to be sufficiently connected. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Einzmann and Zotz experimentally studied four vital dispersal steps of a vascular epiphyte in human modified-landscapes. Their findings suggest a high capacity for dispersal and successful early establishment for anemochorous species. Thus, potentially regenerating forests may receive considerable input from sources such as pasture trees and in this way gain structural complexity, which also greatly enhances their value for other forest organisms, such as canopy arthropods.

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