Plant Ecology

, Volume 213, Issue 9, pp 1393–1412 | Cite as

Host tree utilization by epiphytic orchids in different land-use intensities in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

  • Yagya Prasad Adhikari
  • Hagen Siegfried Fischer
  • Anton Fischer


We studied the influence of site conditions on epiphytic orchids under a subtropical climate in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. We analysed 96 systematically distributed grid points situated in Kathmandu Valley across a land-use intensity gradient (national park to urbanised city area). Geographical Information System (GIS) and remote sensing were used for classification of land-use types. We identified 23 species of epiphytic orchids, within 13 genera, from 42 different host tree species. Host preference is obvious for some orchid species (e.g., Dendrobium nobile), with certain tree species (e.g., Schima wallichii, Ficus religiosa) hosting more orchid species than others. The orchid Rhynchostylis retusa was the most common species found on many different host tree species across the land-use intensity gradient. Host species and host bark characteristics (e.g., rugosity, pH and exposure to wind) played a vital role for orchid distribution, with lower abundance in areas of higher impact. Under strong human impact (urban city area), F. religiosa was the dominant host tree, with large individual trees (mean diameter in breast height, dbh = 1.3 m) providing the habitat for considerable populations of R. retusa individuals. In general, epiphytic orchids were found on larger host trees in urban areas than in areas of lower human impact. We found that some hosts are more likely to harbour orchid species, especially native host species. Older larger trees with rougher bark, low pH, exposed to wind and reduced human impact provided better habitats for orchids. We suggest these characteristics should be considered in urban planning to reduce human impact on the associated orchid epiphytic community.


Host tree preference Micro-site Gradient Epiphyte Abundance Land-use change Kathmandu 


  1. Acharya KP, Vetaas OR, Birks HJB (2011) Orchid species richness along Himalayan elevational gradients. J Biogeogr 38:1821–1833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adhikari YP, Fischer A (2011) Distribution pattern of the epiphytic orchid Rhynchostylis retusa under strong human influence in Kathmandu valley, Nepal. Botanica Orientalis—J Plant Sci 8:90–99Google Scholar
  3. Adhikari YP, Fischer A, Fischer HS (2012) Micro-site conditions of epiphytic orchids in a human impact gradient in Kathmandu valley. Nepal J Mt Sci 9:331–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Austin PC, Hux JE (2002) A brief note on overlapping confidence intervals. J Vasc Surg 36:194–195PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Belinchon R, Martinez I, Aragon G, Escudero A, De La Cruz M (2011) Fine spatial pattern of an epiphytic lichen species is affected by habitat conditions in two forest types in the Iberian Mediterranean region. Fungal Biol 115:1270–1278PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benzing DH (1990) Vascular epiphytes general biology and related biota. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergstrom BJ, Carter R (2008) Host-tree selection by an epiphytic orchid, Epidendrum magnoliae Muhl. (green fly orchid), in an inland hardwood hammock in Georgia. Southeast Nat 7:571–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Callaway RM, Reinhart KO, Moore GW, Moore DJ, Pennings SC (2002) Epiphyte host preferences and host traits: mechanisms for species-specific interactions. Oecologia 132:221–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chaudhary RP (1998) Biodiversity in Nepal: status and conservation. S. Devi, Saharanpur, India & Tecpress Books, Bangkok, ThailandGoogle Scholar
  10. Christenson E (2003) A handbook to the orchids of the Machu Picchu National Sanctuary. The Peruvian Trust Fund for National Parks and Protected Areas (PROFONAPE). Lima, Peru, p 140Google Scholar
  11. Farmer AM, Bates JW, Bell JNB (1990) Short communications: a comparison of methods for the measurement of bark pH. Lichenologist 22:191–197Google Scholar
  12. Frei JK, Dodson CH (1972) The chemical effect of certain bark substrates on the germination and early growth of epiphytic orchids. Bull Torrey Bot Club 99:301–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gentry AH, Dodson CH (1987) Diversity and biogeography of neotropical vascular epiphytes. Miss Bot Gar Press 74:205–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hammer Ø, Harper DAT, Ryan PD (2001) PAST: paleontological statistics software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontol Electron 4(1):9Google Scholar
  15. Hirata A, Kamijo T, Saito S (2009) Host trait preferences and distribution of vascular epiphytes in a warm-temperate forest. Plant Ecol 201:247–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Köster N, Nieder J, Barthlott W (2011) Effect of host tree traits on epiphyte diversity in natural and anthropogenic habitats in Ecuador. Biotropica 43:685–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Krömer T, Kessler M, Robbert Gradstein S, Acebey A (2005) Diversity patterns of vascular epiphytes along an elevational gradient in the Andes. J Biogeogr 32:1799–1809CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Larrea ML, Werner FA (2010) Response of vascular epiphyte diversity to different land-use intensities in a neotropical montane wet forest. For Ecol Manage 260:1950–1955CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Laube S, Zotz G (2006) Neither host-specific nor random: vascular epiphytes on three tree species in a Panamanian lowland forest. Ann Bot 97:1103–1114PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Madison M (1977) Vascular epiphytes: their systematic occurrence and salient features. Selbyana 2:1–13Google Scholar
  21. Manandhar NP (2002) Plants and people of Nepal. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. Massara AC, Bates JW, Bell JNB (2009) Exploring causes of the decline of the lichen Lecanora conizaeoides in Britain: effects of experimental N and S applications. Lichenologist 41:673–681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Migenis LE, Ackerman JD (1993) Orchid–phorophyte relationships in a forest watershed in Puerto Rico. J Tropl Ecol 9:231–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mitchell AW, Secoy K, Jackson T (2002) The global canopy handbook. Techniques of access and study in the forest roof. Global Canopy Programme, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  25. Mullerova J, Vitkova M, Vitek O (2011) The impacts of road and walking trails upon adjacent vegetation: effects of road building materials on species composition in a nutrient poor environment. Sci Total Environ 409:3839–3849PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nadkarni NM (1984) Epiphyte biomass and nutrient capital of a neotropical elfin forest. Biotropica 16:249–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nadkarni N, Solano R (2002) Potential effects of climate change on canopy communities in a tropical cloud forest: an experimental approach. Oecologia 131:580–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nadkarni N, Wheelwright NT (2000) Monteverde: ecology and conservation of a tropical cloud forest. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Nieder JP, Michaloud G (2001) Epiphytes and their contribution to canopy diversity. Plant Ecol 153:51–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pant PR, Dangol D (2009) Kathmandu Valley profile, briefing paper: governance and infrastructure development challenges in the Kathmandu Valley. Workshop: 11–13 February 2009 Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Nepal, pp 15Google Scholar
  31. Press JR, Shrestha KK, Sutton DA (2000) Annotated checklist of the flowering plants of Nepal. British Museum (Natural History), London, UKGoogle Scholar
  32. Rajbhandari KR, Bhattarai S, Joshi R (2000) Orchid diversity of Nepal and their conservation need. In: Proceedings of 8th International Workshop of BIO-REFOR: Biotechnology Applications for Reforestation and Biodiversity Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal, 28 November–2 December, 1999 (Bista et al., eds.), pp 249–252. BIO-REFOR, IUFRO/SPDC, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  33. Shrestha R (2000) Some medicinal orchids of Nepal. In: Watanabe R et al (eds) The Himalayan plants: can they save us? Proceedings of Nepal–Japan Joint Symposium on Conservation and Utilization of Himalayan Medicinal Resources. Society for the Conservation and Development of Himalayan Medicinal Resources SCDHMR, Japan, pp 153–156Google Scholar
  34. Shrestha TK (2003) Wildlife of Nepal: a study of renewable resources of Nepal Himalayas. Reprint, Kathmandu, NepalGoogle Scholar
  35. Song L, Liu WY, Ma WZ, Tan ZH (2011) Bole epiphytic bryophytes on Lithocarpus xylocarpus (Kurz) Markgr. in the Ailao Mountains. SW China Ecol Res 26:351–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. R Development Core Team (2010) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. URL: Vienna
  37. Tupac OJ, Aragon S, Ackerman JD (2007) Site variation in spatial aggregation and phorophyte preference in Psychilis monensis (Orchidaceae). Biotropica 39:227–231Google Scholar
  38. Turner TH, Tan HTW, Wee YC, Ibrahim AB, Chew PT, Corlett RT (1994) A study of plant species extinction in Singapore: lessons for the conservation of tropical biodiversity. Conserv Biol 8:705–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vance ED, Nadkarni NM (1990) Microbial biomass and activity in canopy organic matter and the forest floor of a tropical cloud forest. Soil Biol Biochem 22:677–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Villalobos AL, Palacios AF, Pulido RO (2008) The relationship between bark peeling rate and the distribution and mortality of two epiphyte species. Plant Ecol 198:265–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. WCSP (2011) World checklist of selected plant families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. URL: Accessed 5 Jan 2011
  42. Wolf JHD, Konings CJF (2001) Toward the sustainable harvesting of epiphytic bromeliads: a pilot study from the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Biol Conserv 101:23–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wolf JHD, Gradstein SR, Nadkarni NM (2009) A protocol for sampling vascular epiphyte richness and abundance. J Trop Ecol 25:107–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zimmerman JK, Olmsted IC (1992) Host tree utilization by vascular epiphytes in a seasonally inundated forest (Tintal) in Mexico. Biotropica 24:402–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zotz G (2007) Johansson revisited: the spatial structure of epiphyte assemblages. J Veg Sci 18:123–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zotz G, Vollrath B (2003) The epiphyte vegetation of the palm Socratea exorrhiza—correlations with tree size, tree age and bryophyte cover. J Trop Ecol 19:81–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zurick D, Pacheco J, Shrestha B, Bajracharya B (2005) Atlas of the Himalaya. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) pp 17–90Google Scholar
  48. Zytynska SE, Fay MF, Penney D, Preziosi RF (2011) Genetic variation in a tropical tree species influences the associated epiphytic plant and invertebrate communities in a complex forest ecosystem. Phil Trans R Soc B 366:1329–1336PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yagya Prasad Adhikari
    • 1
  • Hagen Siegfried Fischer
    • 1
  • Anton Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Geobotany, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem ManagementTechnische Universität München, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 2FreisingGermany

Personalised recommendations