Tree hollows can affect epiphyte species composition
Tree hollows often harbor animals and microorganisms, thereby storing nutritive resources derived from their biological activities. The outflows from tree hollows can create unique microenvironments, which may affect communities of epiphytic organisms on trunk surfaces below the hollows. In this study, we tested whether the species richness and composition of epiphytic bryophytes (liverworts and mosses) and lichens differ above and below tree hollows of Aria japonica and Cercidiphyllum japonicum in a Japanese temperate forest. The species richness of epiphytic bryophytes and lichens did not differ above and below hollows; however, the species composition of bryophytes differed significantly above and below hollows. Indicator species analyses showed that the moss species Anomodon tristis and the liverwort species Porella vernicosa were significantly more common below than above hollows, while the liverwort species Radula japonica and four lichen species, including Leptogium cyanescens, occurred more frequently above than below hollows. Our results highlight that tree hollows can produce unique microenvironments on trunk surfaces that potentially contribute to the maintenance of epiphytic diversity on a local scale.
KeywordsBiodiversity Cryptogams Bryophytes Lichens Tree cavities
This study was partly conducted as part of the postgraduate course Ecological Research in Practice: A Field Based Course in Japan organized by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. We thank Tatsuhiro Ohkubo for kindly arranging the collection permits, and Lena Gustafsson and Matthew Low for their assistance during the course. We are also grateful to Ryo Kitagawa, Keiichi Okada, two anonymous reviewers, and the Associate Editor-in-Chief (Yusuke Onoda) for insightful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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