The population structure of three epiphytic orchids (Lycaste aromatica, Jacquiniella teretifolia, and J. leucomelana) was studied in a Mexican humid montane forest. We measured all individuals on several trees and related plant size, number, and fertility to branch height and diameter. While Lycaste preferred thick branches, which are usually more shaded and stable, Jacquiniella spp. grew on thinner and more exposed branches with a higher rate of branchfall. The size-class distribution of Lycaste was relatively homogeneous, pointing to low recruitment and high survival. Jacquiniella leucomelana had a much higher proportion of juveniles, suggesting high recruitment and low survival. In J. teretifolia, recruitment appears irregular. The observed size classes and fertility rates are interpreted to reflect strategies of species adapted to different branches and, in part, as effects of individuals growing on branches of different sizes and stabilities. Using the regular production of pseudobulbs in Lycaste, we estimated the age when the first plants become fertile (10 years) and the time to reach full size (ca. 20 years).
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