Epiphytes and tropical trees symbiotic relationship definition

Epiphyte - Wikipedia

epiphytes and tropical trees symbiotic relationship definition

Commensalism is a type of symbiosis, specifically, a biological relationship in which one Many lichens, mosses, and liverworts are also epiphytes on trees. Some North American examples of such animal-dispersed plants are the burdock .. or checking out at your favorite online retailers like Amazon, Neiman Marcus, . Most orchids are epiphytes, meaning that they grow on another plant. While the relationship between orchids and trees is a form of symbiosis, it is Mist and slight dampness is just as helpful to an orchid as pounding rain. Orchids that grow on a host tree have a special kind of symbiotic relationship with it. They tend to grow on parts of trees that collect organic debris and water, such amount of moisture in the air, helping to keep the tropical rainforests humid.

These mats tend to contain insects including mites, springtails, beetles, ants, moth larvae, thrips, bark lice, wasps, and spiders.

epiphytes and tropical trees symbiotic relationship definition

The insects thrive while living in the epiphytes in the rain forest canopy, but when they die they help to supply the epiphytes with nutrients and minerals Yanoviak An example of a vascular epiphyte that can host a microhabitat is a tank bromeliad. Tank bromeliads have stiff upturned leaves that create a cup that collects and holds water. Some tank bromeliads have been found to hold up to two gallons of water when completely full in which the plant can use as a water supply and a source of nutrients.

Being able to collect water is important to the plant, but the small pool of water is also important to many unique species that depend on the bromeliad. Frogs, mosquitoes, flat worms, insects, snails, salamanders, and crabs can all be found inside the water of a tank bromeliad. Some poison dart frogs use the plant to raise their young due to pooled water and supply of insects and larvae.

epiphytes and tropical trees symbiotic relationship definition

The female frog lays her eggs on the forest floor, and when the eggs hatch she carries the tadpoles up to the epiphyte. Epiphytes are also a home to ants, including the stinging ant. Certain Bromeliad epiphytes contain chambers that are connected by holes and tunnels. The chambers give a place for the stinging ants to live, store food, and reproduce.

Not only do the ants benefit from the situation, but the bromeliad benefits too. The ants protect the plant from insects and animals that would eat the leaves and also supply the plant with nutrients. Wastes from the ant colony decay and the bromeliad is able to absorb the nutrients so that it can live and grow in the canopy. Another group of animals that are greatly benefited by epiphytes are birds because of the many resources that epiphytes have to offer.


Resources that epiphytes provide are flowers, nectar, fruits, insects, water, and material to use to build nests. It was found that over species of birds use epiphytes to obtain food and nutrients.

How Do Epiphytes Adapt To Their Environment?

Frugivores, insectivores, and nectarivores all rely on epiphytes for food along with many species of birds that use epiphytes for nesting. The most common birds that use epiphytes are tanagers Thraupidae and hummingbirds Trochilidae. A study showed that 60 percent of birds in an area used epiphytes in foraging, showing that epiphytes are responsible for supplying a large amount of food to bird species Nadkarni Researching the Canopy Even with systems to explore the rain forest canopy that have been developed through the years, it is extremely hard to explore the canopy.

By using platforms, cranes, walkways, and ropes, scientists have tried to explore the huge amount of diversity contained in the forest crown and in the epiphyte layers. The most efficient way off finding what arthropods that are supported in the tree canopy and in the epiphytes is by fogging. Insecticide is sprayed into the canopy, killing arthropods and causing them to fall off of leaves and branches to the ground where they are collected.

Epiphytes: An ecosystem contained within an ecosystem FINAL

With this method, researchers are able to test many sites that would be challenging to test other ways, but can pose many problems too.

Only part of the insect population makes it down to the bottom of the trees.

epiphytes and tropical trees symbiotic relationship definition

Studies show that many small insects caught in the epiphytes and populations are never documented Yanoviak To get more accurate measures of the epiphytes and the organisms that rely on them, researchers must be able to reach the canopy themselves. One of the most useful ways of collecting information in the forest canopy is by using construction cranes. Since being first used inresearchers have learned a lot about diversity and productivity Lowman Still, there is a lot to be learned about biodiversity within and between rainforests.

Until recently, information gathered by scientists was not shared with people researching other forests on opposite sides of the globe, but thanks to computers, information is shared on a global level. Computer bulletin boards allow scientists to share their information on different field sites, enabling research to take place on a global level Lowman Conclusion Without question, epiphytes are one of the most important plants in the rainforest.

Symbiotic Relationship Between an Orchid & a Tree

They are a major producer of food for many of the organisms of the rain forest, and they are the home of many arthropods. Without epiphytes, Neotropical forests would not be able to support the diverse amount of plants and animal life.

epiphytes and tropical trees symbiotic relationship definition

It is worth the resources to research this important group of plants learn out more about how they can support such a diverse ecosystem. Sources Benavides, Ana M.

epiphytes and tropical trees symbiotic relationship definition

Duivenvoorden, Alejandra Vasco, and Ricardo Callejas. And even something as simple as the relationship of a tree to the groundcover beneath it can be considered a beneficial, plant-plant relationship.

Plant-plant relationships - hidden-facts.info

The tree casts shade, providing habitat for a shade-loving groundcover, and the groundcover in turn keeps more deep-rooted and competitive grasses at bay. One interesting group of plants are the epiphytes. Relatively rare in temperate regions, epiphytes are quite common in tropical rainforests. An epiphyte is a plant that grows on another plant, neither harming nor helping it.

For example, mosses can be epiphytic, growing harmlessly on tree trunks. More exclusively epiphytic plants are the bromeliads and some orchids. Bromeliads are plants that commonly grow high in the branches of tropical rainforest trees.

They are often found in the joint where a branch meets the trunk; there, fallen plant debris collects, providing a source of nutrients to the bromeliad. Some species of bromeliad have cup-shaped leaf rosettes. The cup fills with water during the frequent rains, and the plant is able to use this supply to fill its water needs. Though bromeliads perch in the branches, they do no harm to the tree.

  • Plant-plant relationships

They simply perch there, high in the canopy, where light is more plentiful than on the forest floor.