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Species richness, composition, and spatial distribution of vascular epiphytes in Amazonian black-water floodplain forests

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This study examines the occurrence of vascular epiphytic species in Central Amazonian black-water floodplain forests (igapó) and considers whether their horizontal and vertical distribution is influenced by the flood pulse, as is the case with tree species (phorophytes). Research was conducted in sixteen forest plots the Jaú National Park. In these, epiphytes on all phorophytes with DBH ≥ 10 cm were identified. We measured flood height using the watermark left by the last high-water period, then estimated the height relative to the ground of every epiphytic individual. We recorded 653 individuals in 37 species, distributed on 109 phorophytes. Igapó floodplain forests have much lower richness and abundance of vascular epiphyte species than do other Amazonian forests. This may reflect the limitation of available sites for colonization (only 24.9% of studied trees were occupied by epiphytes). Holoepiphytes predominated, and the combined presence of a flood-pulse, linked to the nutrient-poor soil poor seems to limit the occurrence of nomadic vines. Horizontal distribution of epiphytes followed the distribution of phorophytes, which in turn followed the flood-level gradient. Also flooding interacted strongly with vertical zonation to determine species richness. As already well-reported for trees, and unlike reports of epiphytes in other floodplains, flooding strongly influenced richness and distribution of vascular epiphytes in the studied igapó forests.

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We acknowledge MSc Yuri Oliveira Feitosa for assistance with statistical analyses, Dr Maria de Lourdes Soares for help in aroid identification, Dr Ana Kelly Koch for help with Orchidaceae identification, and to MS Sebastião Maciel for help with identification of pteridophytes. The Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) provided a Doctorate scholarship to the first author, the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) gave logistical support, the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for funding through the project PELD/MAUA (Ecologia, Monitoramento e Uso Sustentável de Áreas Úmidas Amazônicas) (Grant No. 403792/2012-6). Adrian Barnett helped with the English.

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Correspondence to Adriano C. Quaresma.

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Communicated by David Hawksworth.

This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Forest and plantation biodiversity.



See Fig. 7.

Fig. 7
figure 7

Mantel spatial correlogram between 16 plots (25 x 25 m) of igapó forest in Central Amazonia

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Quaresma, A.C., Piedade, M.T.F., Wittmann, F. et al. Species richness, composition, and spatial distribution of vascular epiphytes in Amazonian black-water floodplain forests. Biodivers Conserv 27, 1981–2002 (2018).

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