Vascular epiphytes: current knowledge and future challenges


Vascular epiphytes: current knowledge and future challenges

Mon, July 11, 14:00 - 16:00hrs, Room 304


Helena Einzmann, Glenda Mendieta-Leiva, Ana María Benavides

A synthesis and outlook of epiphyte research: all you wanted to know about vascular epiphytes and all we want to know to understand them more fully.

The tropics, known as a cradle of biodiversity, are highly threatened by land-use changes and global change. Epiphytes are a key element of tropical plant diversity, representing almost 10% of the terrestrial vascular flora globally. These plants are more tightly coupled to the atmosphere than terrestrial plants with ground contact. Being structurally dependent on their host trees, the loss of tropical forests almost always includes loss of epiphytic flora. Despite their prominent role in tropical forest systems, we still know very little about what determines epiphyte diversity, populations and communities and their dynamics, in contrast to the scientific insights gained into tropical tree communities. Major barriers to the advancement of theoretical understanding of epiphyte diversity are the low degree of inter-institutional cooperation and networking besides the lack of large-scale cooperative research. Platforms for epiphyte researchers to mingle are rare opportunities, and large-scale and long-term studies documenting biodiversity patterns and community dynamics are scarce. Conservation efforts will be more informed and eventually more successful with a well-founded theoretical understanding of the diversity and dynamics of epiphyte assemblages. To overcome some of these barriers a consortium of epiphyte researchers was formed: the Epiphyte Inventory group (EpIG). EpIG has taken a step towards a more global approach to epiphyte research by assembling a database that encompasses epiphyte inventories from across the world (EpIG-DB). This consortium comprises over 40 researchers, most of them epiphyte ecologists. They cover a wide range of expertise about the ecology of vascular epiphytes (e.g. biodiversity, conservation, ecological traits, landscape ecology, biogeography). This symposium is an ideal platform to provide a synthesis of the most recurrent topics in epiphyte research; with the overall aim of fostering the exchange of ideas between epiphyte ecologists and among researchers overall and identifying the next steps to advance epiphyte research. Aims: Introducing ecologists from other fields to the current knowledge on vascular epiphytes (mainly focused on biodiversity patterns and processes, conservation and their response to anthropogenic impact and climate change) to invite new perspectives. Presenting EpIG-DB, discussing the integration of additional datasets and its use for identifying research gaps. Discussing the state of the art and outlining the perspective of future research on vascular epiphytes focusing on large-scale and long-term initiatives. Strengthening EpIG as a network for epiphyte researchers, and strengthening and devising current and future collaborations needed to tackle the long-term goal of theoretical understanding of epiphyte diversity.

“Epiphytes sensu lato” : Biological variation vs. terminological chaos
Gerhard Zotz*

Vascular epiphyte life history responses to anthropogenic change: An Experimental Approach
Catherine Cardelus* and Carrie Woods

Putting Vascular Epiphytes on the Traits Map
Peter Hietz*

Vascular epiphyte diversity at the local scale: state-of-the-art and outlook
Glenda Mendieta Leiva*, Christopher Blum, André de Gasper, Margoth Acuña , Thorsten Krömer, Derio Jiménez-López, Alex F. Mendes, Luis Neto, Sara Mortara, Adriano Quaresma, Edier Soto Medina, Luis Pillaca, Michael Vega, Marcio Werneck and Charles Zartman

Identification of large-scale vascular epiphyte biodiversity patterns
Amanda Taylor*, Flavio Ramos, Holger Kreft, Michael Kessler and Jan Wolf

Identification of responses to anthropogenic disturbances and Climate Change on vascular epiphytes
Ana Benavides*, Sven Batke, Helena Einzmann, Joao Elias, Edilia de la Rosa-Manzano, Alejandro Flores-Palacios, Valeria Guzmán-Jacob, Florian Werner, Maria Judith Carmona, Flavio Ramos, Daniel Zuleta, Thorsten Krömer and Glenda Mendieta Leiva