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Species richness and abundance of vascular epiphytes along an elevation gradient

Cite this dataset

Berrios, Hazel (2020). Species richness and abundance of vascular epiphytes along an elevation gradient [Dataset]. Dryad.


Because of the difficulty in sampling and the logistics of identifying canopy-dwelling plants, the number of inventories quantifying tropical epiphytes is limited. This has resulted in a substantial gap in knowledge, even though forest canopies contain significant biodiversity and forest biomass. In the case of Volcán Maderas, multiple ecological and taxonomic research initiatives have been conducted. However, for vascular epiphytes, georeferenced specific spatial descriptions were lacking and a standardized effort for documenting species richness was non-existent. We provide a detailed qualitative and quantitative assessment of the vascular epiphyte flora and its spatial distribution. These data shed light on important plant assemblages across elevational gradients that can be used for monitoring and understanding adaptive strategies to drought conditions.


Along the Mérida Trail on the west slope of the volcano, we selected eight mature canopy trees from each of the five forest habitats. All eight trees in each forest type were sampled within 1 ha along the elevational gradient of the volcano, following the protocol described by Gradstein et al. Although [32] suggested to employ the single rope technique for tree sampling, 80% of the trees were surveyed from the ground on a slope for easier visualization, using binoculars or through a high-resolution camera with a zoom feature (Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 16.1 MP Digital Camera with 60x Optical Image). All of the trees were intensely photographed and videoed.

Gradstein SR, Nadkarni NM, Krömer T, Holz I, Nöske N. A protocol for rapid and representative sampling of vascular and non-vascular epiphyte diversity of tropical rain forests. Selbyana. 2003;24: 190–195.