Data from: Primary ecological succession in vascular epiphytes: the species accumulation model
Woods, Carrie L. (2017), Data from: Primary ecological succession in vascular epiphytes: the species accumulation model, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.428q1
Epiphytes are integral to tropical forests yet little is understood about how succession proceeds in these communities. As trees increase in size they create microhabitats for late-colonizing species in both small and large branches while maintaining small tree microhabitats for early colonizing species in the small and young branches. Thus, epiphyte succession may follow different models depending on the scale: at the scale of the entire tree, epiphytes may follow a species accumulation model where species are continuously added to the tree as trees increase in size but at the scale of one zone on a branch (e.g., inner crown: 0–2 m from the trunk), they may follow the replacement model of succession seen in terrestrial ecosystems. Assuming tree size as an indicator of tree age, I surveyed 61 Virola koschnyi trees of varying size (2.5–103.3 cm diameter at breast height) in lowland wet tropical forest in Costa Rica to examine how epiphyte communities change through succession. Epiphyte communities in small trees were nested subsets of those in large trees and epiphyte communities became more similar to the largest trees as trees increased in size. Furthermore, epiphyte species in small trees were replaced by mid- and late-successional species in the oldest parts of the tree crown but dispersed toward the younger branches as trees increased in size. Thus, epiphyte succession followed a replacement model in particular zones within treecrowns but a species accumulation model at the scale of the entire tree crown.
La Selva Biological Research Station