Tropical Forests. IV. Lianas, Hemi-Epiphytes, Epiphytes and Mistletoes


U Littge

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Perhaps epiphytism could be thought to be primarily the utilization of any possible surface for holdfast and establishment, i.e. a conquest of space with epiphytes found in aquatic and terrestrial habitats made up of various combinations of lower and higher plants. In aquatic habitats, i.e. lakes, rivers and the sea, there are always algae growing on each other. This not only applies to unicellular and filamentous forms and their colonies, but also to macroalgae like kelp and red algae. In the mesic terrestrial climate many lower plants are epiphytic, like mosses and lichens and also some forms of small pleurococcoid aerial green algae as well as cyanobacteria (blue green algae). In the tropics lower plants may constitute massive formations of epiphytic biomass, e.g. the bryophytes the biomass of which increases with altitude (Freiberg and Freiberg 2000) in upper montane cloud forests (“moss-forests”, Fig. 6.1). Even the surfaces of leaves of plants in such forests may harbour a diverse flora or phyllosphere with bacteria, cyanobacteria, fungi, green algae, bryophytes and lichens and occasional seedlings of vascular plants (Ruinen 1961, 1974; Coley et al. 1993; Freiberg 1998) (Fig. 6.2).

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