Diversity and host tree preferences of vascular epiphytes and vines in a temperate rainforest in southern Chile

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Australian Journal of Botany


Vines and epiphytes contribute importantly to the biodiversity of temperate rainforests of southern South America. However, compared with their tropical counterparts, these functional groups have received less attention. We evaluated diversity, floristic composition and relative abundance of vascular epiphytes and vines within a humid temperate forest in northern Chiloe Island, southern Chile. We assessed whether epiphyte and vine species exhibit preferences among host tree species and tested whether species richness on tree hosts differs from that expected by chance, by comparing observed frequencies of occurrence (FO) and species richness with randomly simulated frequency distributions generated under the assumption of no epiphyte preferences. Finally, we tested for associations of epiphyte and vine species with host tree size ( trunk diameter at breast height). Eleven species of ferns and nine angiosperms ( seven vines, one epiphytic angiosperm and one shrub) were recorded growing epiphytically in a sample of 499 trees. The most abundant species were three vines, Luzuriaga polyphylla (Hook.) Macbr., Griselinia racemosa (Phil.) Taub. and Mitraria coccinea Cav., and five species of filmy ferns (Hymenophyllaceae). Most epiphytes and vines (65%) showed preference for one or two tree species, with seven species being overrepresented on Podocarpus nubigena Lindl. hosts and 10 underrepresented on Drimys winteri J.R. et G. Forster. Epiphyte and vine species richness was significantly lower than expected by chance on D. winteri and higher than expected on Nothofagus nitida ( Phil.) Krasser. Three epiphytic ferns showed preferences for large-sized trees, while frequency of occurrence of three common vines was independent of host tree size.