Presentation Title

Comparison of Tillandsia Usneoides (Spanish Moss) Water and Leachate Dynamics Between Urban and Pristine Barrier Island Maritime Oak Forests

Document Type


Presentation Date


Abstract or Description

Epiphyte coverage on forest canopies can drastically alter the volume and chemical composition of rainwater reaching soils. Along subtropical and tropical coastlines Tillandisa usneoides L. (Spanish moss), in particular, can envelop urban and natural tree crowns. Several cities actively manage their “moss” covered forest to enhance aesthetics in the most active tourist areas (e.g., Savannah GA, St. Augustine FL, Charleston SC). Since T. usneoides survives through atmospheric water and solute exchange from specialized trichomes (scales), we hypothesized that T. usneoides water storage dynamics and leachate chemistry may be altered by exposure to this active urban atmosphere. 30 samples of T. usneoides from managed forests around the tourist center of Savannah, Georgia, USA were collected to compare with 30 samples from the pristine maritime live oak (Quercus virginiana Mill.) forests of a nearby undeveloped barrier island (St. Catherines Island, Georgia, USA). Maximum water storage capacities were determined via submersion (for all 60 samples) along with dissolved ion (DI) and organic matter (DOM) concentrations (for 15 samples each) after simulated throughfall generation using milliQ ultrapurified water. Further, DOM quality was evaluated (for 15 samples each) using absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy (EEMS). Results show significant alterations to water storage dynamics, DI, DOM, and DOM quality metrics under urban atmospheric conditions, suggesting modified C and water cycling in urban forest canopies that may, in turn, influence intrasystem nutrient cycles in urban catchment soils or streams via runoff.


American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (AGU)


San Francisco, CA