Presentation Title

A Review and Evaluation of Forest Canopy Epiphyte Roles in the Partitioning and Chemical Alteration of Precipitation

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Abstract or Description

Interactions between precipitation and forest canopy elements (bark, leaves, and epiphytes) control the quantity, spatiotemporal patterning, and the chemical concentration, character and constituency of precipitation to soils. Canopy epiphytes are an element that exerts a range of storm-related hydrological and biogeochemical effects due to their diversity of morphological traits and nutrient acquisition mechanisms. We reviewed and evaluated the state of knowledge regarding epiphyte interactions with precipitation partitioning (into interception loss, throughfall, and stemflow) and the chemical alteration of net precipitation fluxes (throughfall and stemflow). As epiphyte species are quite diverse, this review categorized findings by common paraphyletic groups: lichens, bryophytes, and vascular epiphytes. Of these groups, vascular epiphytes have received the least attention and lichens the most. In general, epiphytes decrease throughfall and stemflow and increase interception loss. Epiphytes alter the spatiotemporal pattern of throughfall and increase the overall latent heat fluxes from the canopy. Epiphytes alter biogeochemical processes by impacting the transfer of solutes through the canopy; however, the change in solute concentration varies with epiphyte type and chemical species. We discuss several important knowledge gaps across all epiphyte groups. We also explore innovative methods that currently exist to confront these knowledge gaps and past techniques applied to gain our current understanding. Future research addressing the listed deficiencies will improve our knowledge of epiphyte roles in water and biogeochemical processes coupled within forest canopies—processes crucial to supporting microbe, plant, vertebrate and invertebrate communities within individual epiphytes/epiphyte assemblages, host trees, and even the forest ecosystem as a whole.


American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (AGU)


San Francisco, CA