Epiphyte and tree relationship

Epiphytes ( Read ) | Biology | CK Foundation

epiphyte and tree relationship

really strangle the tree, it does make it harder for the tree to get water and nutrients from the soil and Orchids are epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants). About three quarters of all orchid species are epiphytes, which is a term that Orchids that grow on a host tree have a special kind of symbiotic relationship with . Examines the adaptations of epiphytes and the importance of them. death of the host tree, and the former epiphyte becomes a free-standing tree. Some species have symbiotic relationships with bacteria which fix nitrogen.

Non-vascular epiphytes such as bryophytes, liverworts, and mosses, can be a home for many arthropods. Young forests will accumulate dense coverings of these epiphytes on the bark and on the branches. In old growth forests, epiphytic mats are formed from years of growth and the accumulation of particles and dead tissue. These mats tend to contain insects including mites, springtails, beetles, ants, moth larvae, thrips, bark lice, wasps, and spiders.

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The insects thrive while living in the epiphytes in the rain forest canopy, but when they die they help to supply the epiphytes with nutrients and minerals Yanoviak An example of a vascular epiphyte that can host a microhabitat is a tank bromeliad. Tank bromeliads have stiff upturned leaves that create a cup that collects and holds water.

Some tank bromeliads have been found to hold up to two gallons of water when completely full in which the plant can use as a water supply and a source of nutrients. Being able to collect water is important to the plant, but the small pool of water is also important to many unique species that depend on the bromeliad.

Frogs, mosquitoes, flat worms, insects, snails, salamanders, and crabs can all be found inside the water of a tank bromeliad.

epiphyte and tree relationship

Some poison dart frogs use the plant to raise their young due to pooled water and supply of insects and larvae. The female frog lays her eggs on the forest floor, and when the eggs hatch she carries the tadpoles up to the epiphyte.

Epiphytes are also a home to ants, including the stinging ant. Certain Bromeliad epiphytes contain chambers that are connected by holes and tunnels. The chambers give a place for the stinging ants to live, store food, and reproduce. Not only do the ants benefit from the situation, but the bromeliad benefits too. The ants protect the plant from insects and animals that would eat the leaves and also supply the plant with nutrients. Wastes from the ant colony decay and the bromeliad is able to absorb the nutrients so that it can live and grow in the canopy.

Another group of animals that are greatly benefited by epiphytes are birds because of the many resources that epiphytes have to offer. Resources that epiphytes provide are flowers, nectar, fruits, insects, water, and material to use to build nests.

It was found that over species of birds use epiphytes to obtain food and nutrients. Frugivores, insectivores, and nectarivores all rely on epiphytes for food along with many species of birds that use epiphytes for nesting. The most common birds that use epiphytes are tanagers Thraupidae and hummingbirds Trochilidae. A study showed that 60 percent of birds in an area used epiphytes in foraging, showing that epiphytes are responsible for supplying a large amount of food to bird species Nadkarni Researching the Canopy Even with systems to explore the rain forest canopy that have been developed through the years, it is extremely hard to explore the canopy.

By using platforms, cranes, walkways, and ropes, scientists have tried to explore the huge amount of diversity contained in the forest crown and in the epiphyte layers. The most efficient way off finding what arthropods that are supported in the tree canopy and in the epiphytes is by fogging.


Insecticide is sprayed into the canopy, killing arthropods and causing them to fall off of leaves and branches to the ground where they are collected. With this method, researchers are able to test many sites that would be challenging to test other ways, but can pose many problems too.

Only part of the insect population makes it down to the bottom of the trees. Studies show that many small insects caught in the epiphytes and populations are never documented Yanoviak To get more accurate measures of the epiphytes and the organisms that rely on them, researchers must be able to reach the canopy themselves.

One of the most useful ways of collecting information in the forest canopy is by using construction cranes. Since being first used inresearchers have learned a lot about diversity and productivity Lowman Still, there is a lot to be learned about biodiversity within and between rainforests.

Until recently, information gathered by scientists was not shared with people researching other forests on opposite sides of the globe, but thanks to computers, information is shared on a global level.

epiphyte and tree relationship

Computer bulletin boards allow scientists to share their information on different field sites, enabling research to take place on a global level Lowman Conclusion Without question, epiphytes are one of the most important plants in the rainforest. They are a major producer of food for many of the organisms of the rain forest, and they are the home of many arthropods.

Epiphytes: An ecosystem contained within an ecosystem FINAL

Without epiphytes, Neotropical forests would not be able to support the diverse amount of plants and animal life.

For questions regarding this web site, contact Webmaster Plant-Plant Relationships Many interesting plant to plant relationships exist, covering the spectrum from mutually beneficial to wholly parasitic.

An example of a beneficial, plant-plant relationship familiar to many gardeners is the "Three Sisters Garden. The corn plants grew straight and tall, giving the pole beans something to climb on.

The beans, since they are legumes, contributed nitrogen to the soil. And the pumpkins shaded out competing weeds. And even something as simple as the relationship of a tree to the groundcover beneath it can be considered a beneficial, plant-plant relationship. The tree casts shade, providing habitat for a shade-loving groundcover, and the groundcover in turn keeps more deep-rooted and competitive grasses at bay. One interesting group of plants are the epiphytes.

Relatively rare in temperate regions, epiphytes are quite common in tropical rainforests. An epiphyte is a plant that grows on another plant, neither harming nor helping it.

For example, mosses can be epiphytic, growing harmlessly on tree trunks.

epiphyte and tree relationship

More exclusively epiphytic plants are the bromeliads and some orchids. Bromeliads are plants that commonly grow high in the branches of tropical rainforest trees.