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The Effect of Rain Forest Canopy Architecture on the Distribution of Epiphytic Ferns (<i>Asplenium</i>spp.) in Sabah, Malaysia

Fayle, Tom M and Chung, Arthur YC and Dumbrell, Alex J and Eggleton, Paul and Foster, William A (2009) 'The Effect of Rain Forest Canopy Architecture on the Distribution of Epiphytic Ferns (<i>Asplenium</i>spp.) in Sabah, Malaysia.' Biotropica, 41 (6). pp. 676-681. ISSN 0006-3606

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Epiphytic plants are a dominant component of the rain forest canopy biota. They represent a significant proportion of canopy plant biomass and diversity, play a key role in nutrient cycling, and support highly abundant and diverse animal communities. Understanding the factors affecting their distribution in this three-dimensional habitat is consequently of great importance, not least because they may be particularly vulnerable to climate change and habitat conversion. Here we investigate how canopy architecture affects the distribution of two species of bird's nest fern (Asplenium spp.) in pristine rain forest. Both species were found at high abundances (Asplenium phyllitidis: 136ha, SE ± 31.6, Asplenium nidus: 44ha, SE ± 9.2) and their distributions were differentially affected by canopy architecture. Asplenium phyllitidis was found only at heights < 30 m in areas with a thicker lower canopy layer. Asplenium nidus was found at all heights in the canopy and was associated with emergent trees and areas with an open understory. Larger A. phyllitidis were found higher in the canopy while larger A. nidus were found on trunks and branches with a wider diameter. Asplenium nidus seems adapted to withstand the hot dry conditions in the upper canopy and in gaps, and its size is consequently limited only by the size of its support. Asplenium phyllitidis is dominant in areas that are cooler and damper, and so the growth rate of individuals may be limited by light levels. We discuss possible implications of this partitioning for epiphyte communities in the face of climate change and habitat conversion. in Malay is available at © 2009 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Asplenium nidus; Asplenium phyllitidis; bird's nest fern; climate change; habitat conversion; microclimate; vertical stratification
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2011 14:12
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 12:26

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