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Epiphyte Distribution with Resect to Microhabitats in Moorea, French Polynesia

Abstract

Epiphytes contribute significantly to the biomass of forest canopies; however, in the tropics, epiphytes have been greatly understudied. This study seeks to better understand the effects of forest edge on the distribution of epiphytes as well as describe general characteristics of epiphytic communities on Inocarpus fagifer in Mo'orea, French Polynesia. It was found that species richness was relatively similar throughout the study site. While there was no significant difference between locality on buttress root or trunk of the host tree, moss communities in particular were significantly affected by distance from forest edge and proximity to perennial streams. Ferns were found to be somewhat correlated with their proximity to streams while liverworts and lichens were not greatly affected. Overall, location of epiphyte communities relative to edge or at different heights on the host tree did not play a large role in the establishment of epiphytes.

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