Tank bromeliads sustain high secondary production in neotropical forests
In neotropical landscapes, a substantial fraction of the still waters available is found within tank bromeliads, plants which hold a few milliliters to several litres of rainwater within their leaf axils. The bromeliad ecosystem is integrated into the functioning of rainforest environments, but no study has ever estimated the secondary production, nor the biomass turnover rates of bromeliad macroinvertebrates in relation to other functional traits. We estimated secondary production at invertebrate population to metacommunity level in bromeliads of French Guiana. Coleoptera, Diptera and Crustacea with traits that confer resistance to drought had lower biomass turnover, longer generation times, and slower individual growth than species without particular resistance traits, suggesting convergent life history strategies in phylogenetically distant species. Detritivores and predators accounted for 87% and 13% of the overall annual production, respectively, but had similar production to biomass ratios. An average bromeliad sustained a production of 23.93 g dry mass m−2 year−1, a value which exceeds the medians of 5.0–14.8 g DM m−2 year−1 for lakes and rivers worldwide. Extrapolations to the total water volumes held by bromeliads at our field site yielded secondary production estimates of 226.8 ± 32.5 g DM ha−1 year−1. We conclude that the ecological role of tank bromeliads in neotropical rainforests may be as important as that of other freshwater ecosystems.
KeywordsBiomass turnover Epiphytes Functional traits Food webs Invertebrates Rainforests
We thank Frédéric Petitclerc, Clément Andrzejewski, Arthur Compin for field support, the Laboratoire Environnement Hydreco (Petit-Saut) for providing logistical support, Andrea Yockey-Dejean for proofreading the English text, and Andrew MacDonald for his comments on an advanced version of the manuscript. Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.
Wrote the paper: OD, RC, CL; designed and conceived the study: OD, RC, CL, BC, AD, ST; analyzed the data: OD, RC. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results and conclusions. All co-authors have read the submitted version of the manuscript and approve its submission, and we confirm that all persons entitled to authorship have been so included.
Financial support was provided by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche throught the Rainwebs project (grant ANR-12-BSV7-0022-01) and an “Investissement d’Avenir” grant (Labex CEBA, ref. ANR-10-LABX-25-01). OD and ST were funded by a PhD scholarship (CNRS and the FSE for OD; Université de Guyane for ST).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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