Lesson Species interactions: Commensalism, mutualism, and
An epiphyte is an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water (in marine environments) or from debris accumulating around it. contact with the ground. Orchids are a common example of holo-epiphytes and Strangler Figs are an example of hemi-epiphytes. Epiphytes play an important role in tropical rainforest diversity and productivity If it were a parasitic relationship, one plant would benefit at the host In some cases, host trees were able to grow aerial roots when their An example of a vascular epiphyte that can host a microhabitat is a tank bromeliad. Information and pictures: epiphytes. on nutrients from the air, falling rain, and the compost that lies on tree branches. . One of the best examples of a tiny ecosystem based in an epiphyte is the To counter the lack of nutrients, plant species have either developed symbiotic relationships with animals or.
For example, Malacothrix and Chaenactis are positively associated with the canopies of burro bush and turpentine broom. These plants have dense canopies that trap debris that it is a better substrate for the annuals. The seeds are also trapped in abundance WentMullerMuller and Muller And many bunchgrasses require the shade of mesquite, Prosopsis juliflora.
Yavit and Smith However, if it hasnt, it will deplete the soil surface of soil moisture for herbaceous plants. Palo Verde and Saguaro Malacothrix californica A physiological perspective: Commensalism between maples Acer saccharum and herb layer through nighttime hydraulic lift Numbers on lines are horizontal distance from the tree.
X-axis numbers are dates at noon. At night, there is water pressure gradient upward from the deep roots to the stem and back out through the near surface roots to upper soil surface.
Plant-plant relationships - avesisland.info
The effect is diminshed at greater distance from the tree. The effect is swamped after a rain event. Growth and survivorship is possible in the absence of the interaction. When one species is much smaller as in bthen the relationship is one of parasitism. Protocooperation through soil mycorrhizae Woods and Brock Woods and Brock cited in Barbour et al.Symbiotic Relationship of the Orchid and Tree
Woods and Brocks concluded that the labeled nutrients had moved to the surrounding plants through mycorrhizal connections. They exude nutrients, which are absorbed by the fungus. And the mycorrhizae help the plants, which are somehow stimulated to take up greater amounts of nutrients Ca, P, K. Usually a nitrogen fixing bacteria fixes N on a host in return for carbonbased resources. Mutualism between insects and plants: Provides a food source for the animals.
Advantages to the plant: Possibility of accurate pollen dispersal far from the host anther, allowing for outcrossing and genetic variability. Adaptations of bee-pollinated flowers and pollinators Flowers: Mechanically strong flowers, often with sexual organs concealed.
Bright blue or yellow colors bees cant see red. Nectar guides along a landing platform. Moderate quantities of nectar that is sometimes concealed.
Epiphyte - Wikipedia
Many ovules per ovary, few stamens. Seedlings are most vulnerable Mature plants can withstand huge losses due to herbivory.
Augsberger Why is the world still green? Protein content of plants is low. Carbohydrate content is high, but mostly in the form of poorly digestible forms lignin and cellulose. N is often bound in relatively inaccessible forms such as secondary metabolites. Those that are a fixed part of plant allocation Generally more expensive for the plant Examples include hairy stems and leaves, spines, or chemicals that are not induced.
Ipompopsis aggregata Inducible defenses — — Preformed inducible chemical defenses that are stored in the plant but are transported and become active under stimulation from attack e.
Induced chemical defenses that are produced after stimulation e. Fouquieria splendens, Ocotillo, Photos St. Major classes of secondary plant compounds Ledum decumbens, an evergreeen shrub with abundant phenols Hypothetical relationship between type of defense and probability of attack Bazzaz Optimal defense theory of Rhoades states that a plant should neither overallocate nor underallocate to its defenses.
Coevolution of chemical defenses in boreal birch and willow Bryant et al. Assumed woody plants from regions with comparatively low numbers of browsing mammals would be more palatable and have fewer chemical defenses.
Also assumed that selective pressures would be strongest in areas with 10year hare cycles. Studied willows and birch from Iceland no haresFinland no yr cycleSiuberia and Alaska areas with yr cycles. These mats tend to contain insects including mites, springtails, beetles, ants, moth larvae, thrips, bark lice, wasps, and spiders. 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.
Lesson 10: Species interactions: Commensalism, mutualism, and
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. 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.
- Plant-plant relationships
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.
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. Without epiphytes, Neotropical forests would not be able to support the diverse amount of plants and animal life.
It is worth the resources to research this important group of plants learn out more about how they can support such a diverse ecosystem. Sources Benavides, Ana M. Duivenvoorden, Alejandra Vasco, and Ricardo Callejas.