Assessing the Potential Influence of Vascular Epiphytes on Arthropod Diversity in Tropical Tree Crowns: Hypotheses, Approaches, and Preliminary Data


structural herogeneity
trapping techniques

How to Cite

Stuntz, S., Simon, U., & Zotz, G. (1999). Assessing the Potential Influence of Vascular Epiphytes on Arthropod Diversity in Tropical Tree Crowns: Hypotheses, Approaches, and Preliminary Data. Selbyana, 20(2), 276–283. Retrieved from


The canopies of tropical forests harbor a large proportion of global biodiversity. The largest fraction of this diversity is comprised of arthropods. For establishment and maintenance of such faunal diversity, vascular epiphytes may play an important role by substantially increasing the structural heterogeneity of the canopy habitat, providing resources for herbivores, and mitigating microclimatic extremes. Until now, the degree of this possible influence has not been studied at the community level within entire tree crowns. Here, we present an approach to investigate the relationships between the epiphyte flora of selected Annona glabra trees and their respective arthropod fauna. Currently, we are conducting a one-year survey of arthropods inhabiting tree crowns bearing distinct epiphyte assemblages in a tropical moist forest in Panama. We are collecting animals using long-term trapping techniques to address seasonal fluctuations. Four different types of traps are described and discussed. Composite flight interception traps yielded most arthropods, but tended to underestimate certain taxa, e.g., ants and springtails. Those were more successfully captured in branch traps. Preliminary results on the composition of the arboreal arthropod fauna are presented.


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