Epiphylls on leaves

Title Info
Source Dan L. Perlman
Ecosystems Forests
Forests Tropical rainforest
Ecological interactions Herbivory; Competition
Selection and adaptations Selection
Selection Natural Selection
Organisms Plants
Keywords epiphylls
Date October 23, 2004
Location Salto Morato Natural Reserve,Parana,Brazil,South America

Epiphylls on young and old rainforest leaves, Brazil. This rainforest plant demonstrates what can happen to long-lived leaves in this habitat. Not only are leaves subject to herbivory, but they can become covered with epiphylls (plants growing on leaves), and here the difference between the epiphyll loads of young and old leaves on a single twig is obvious. Liverworts and lichens are especially frequent epiphylls, but cyanobacteria, mosses, and algae can also fill this ecological niche. It is not uncommon to find a quarter or even half of a leaf covered with epiphylls. It would appear that epiphylls compete heavily for light with the leaves that support them. However, recent research indicates that at least some rainforest plants have evolved mechanisms to compensate for the decreased light reaching their leaves. By adding chlorophyll, these plants can photosynthesize nearly as much as if they had no epiphylls.