skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Arboreal Epiphytes in the Soil-Atmosphere Interface: How Often Are the Biggest “Buckets” in the Canopy Empty?

Abstract

Arboreal epiphytes (plants residing in forest canopies) are present across all major climate zones and play important roles in forest biogeochemistry. The substantial water storage capacity per unit area of the epiphyte “bucket” is a key attribute underlying their capability to influence forest hydrological processes and their related mass and energy flows. It is commonly assumed that the epiphyte bucket remains saturated, or near-saturated, most of the time; thus, epiphytes (particularly vascular epiphytes) can store little precipitation, limiting their impact on the forest canopy water budget. We present evidence that contradicts this common assumption from (i) an examination of past research; (ii) new datasets on vascular epiphyte and epi-soil water relations at a tropical montane cloud forest (Monteverde, Costa Rica); and (iii) a global evaluation of non-vascular epiphyte saturation state using a process-based vegetation model, LiBry. All analyses found that the external and internal water storage capacity of epiphyte communities is highly dynamic and frequently available to intercept precipitation. Globally, non-vascular epiphytes spend <20% of their time near saturation and regionally, including the humid tropics, model results found that non-vascular epiphytes spend ~1/3 of their time in the dry state (0–10% of water storage capacity). Even data from Costa Ricanmore » cloud forest sites found the epiphyte community was saturated only 1/3 of the time and that internal leaf water storage was temporally dynamic enough to aid in precipitation interception. Analysis of the epi-soils associated with epiphytes further revealed the extent to which the epiphyte bucket emptied—as even the canopy soils were often <50% saturated (29–53% of all days observed). Results clearly show that the epiphyte bucket is more dynamic than currently assumed, meriting further research on epiphyte roles in precipitation interception, redistribution to the surface and chemical composition of “net” precipitation waters reaching the surface.« less

Authors:
; ; ORCiD logo; ; ; ORCiD logo
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1546865
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0010654
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Geosciences
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Geosciences Journal Volume: 9 Journal Issue: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 2076-3263
Publisher:
MDPI AG
Country of Publication:
Switzerland
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Hargis, Hailey, Gotsch, Sybil G., Porada, Philipp, Moore, Georgianne W., Ferguson, Briana, and Van Stan, II, John T. Arboreal Epiphytes in the Soil-Atmosphere Interface: How Often Are the Biggest “Buckets” in the Canopy Empty?. Switzerland: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.3390/geosciences9080342.
Hargis, Hailey, Gotsch, Sybil G., Porada, Philipp, Moore, Georgianne W., Ferguson, Briana, & Van Stan, II, John T. Arboreal Epiphytes in the Soil-Atmosphere Interface: How Often Are the Biggest “Buckets” in the Canopy Empty?. Switzerland. doi:10.3390/geosciences9080342.
Hargis, Hailey, Gotsch, Sybil G., Porada, Philipp, Moore, Georgianne W., Ferguson, Briana, and Van Stan, II, John T. Mon . "Arboreal Epiphytes in the Soil-Atmosphere Interface: How Often Are the Biggest “Buckets” in the Canopy Empty?". Switzerland. doi:10.3390/geosciences9080342.
@article{osti_1546865,
title = {Arboreal Epiphytes in the Soil-Atmosphere Interface: How Often Are the Biggest “Buckets” in the Canopy Empty?},
author = {Hargis, Hailey and Gotsch, Sybil G. and Porada, Philipp and Moore, Georgianne W. and Ferguson, Briana and Van Stan, II, John T.},
abstractNote = {Arboreal epiphytes (plants residing in forest canopies) are present across all major climate zones and play important roles in forest biogeochemistry. The substantial water storage capacity per unit area of the epiphyte “bucket” is a key attribute underlying their capability to influence forest hydrological processes and their related mass and energy flows. It is commonly assumed that the epiphyte bucket remains saturated, or near-saturated, most of the time; thus, epiphytes (particularly vascular epiphytes) can store little precipitation, limiting their impact on the forest canopy water budget. We present evidence that contradicts this common assumption from (i) an examination of past research; (ii) new datasets on vascular epiphyte and epi-soil water relations at a tropical montane cloud forest (Monteverde, Costa Rica); and (iii) a global evaluation of non-vascular epiphyte saturation state using a process-based vegetation model, LiBry. All analyses found that the external and internal water storage capacity of epiphyte communities is highly dynamic and frequently available to intercept precipitation. Globally, non-vascular epiphytes spend <20% of their time near saturation and regionally, including the humid tropics, model results found that non-vascular epiphytes spend ~1/3 of their time in the dry state (0–10% of water storage capacity). Even data from Costa Rican cloud forest sites found the epiphyte community was saturated only 1/3 of the time and that internal leaf water storage was temporally dynamic enough to aid in precipitation interception. Analysis of the epi-soils associated with epiphytes further revealed the extent to which the epiphyte bucket emptied—as even the canopy soils were often <50% saturated (29–53% of all days observed). Results clearly show that the epiphyte bucket is more dynamic than currently assumed, meriting further research on epiphyte roles in precipitation interception, redistribution to the surface and chemical composition of “net” precipitation waters reaching the surface.},
doi = {10.3390/geosciences9080342},
journal = {Geosciences},
number = 8,
volume = 9,
place = {Switzerland},
year = {2019},
month = {8}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.3390/geosciences9080342

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Piracy in the high trees: ectomycorrhizal fungi from an aerial ‘canopy soil’ microhabitat
journal, January 2013

  • Orlovich, David A.; Draffin, Suzy J.; Daly, Robert A.
  • Mycologia, Vol. 105, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.3852/11-307

Sensitivity of a coupled climate model to canopy interception capacity
journal, March 2014


Rainfall and cloud water interception in mature and secondary lower montane cloud forests of central Veracruz, Mexico
journal, April 2010


Apogeotropic Roots in an Amazon Rain Forest
journal, February 1987


Foliar water uptake, a widespread phenomenon in temperate woodland ferns?
journal, February 2017


Significant contribution of non-vascular vegetation to global rainfall interception
journal, July 2018


Comparison of tree transpiration under wet and dry canopy conditions in a Costa Rican premontane tropical forest: Tropical Tree Transpiration Response to Wet and Dry Canopy Conditions
journal, August 2016

  • Aparecido, Luiza Maria Teophilo; Miller, Gretchen R.; Cahill, Anthony T.
  • Hydrological Processes, Vol. 30, Issue 26
  • DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10960

Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth
journal, January 2001


Roots of Sobralia Macrantha (Orchidaceae): Structure and Function of the Velamen-Exodermis Complex
journal, April 1982


Retention of Inorganic Nitrogen by Epiphytic Bryophytes in a Tropical Montane Forest1
journal, September 2005


Epiphyte host preferences and host traits: mechanisms for species-specific interactions
journal, July 2002


Rainfall interception in two tropical montane rain forests, Colombia
journal, October 1990


Aerial roots of epiphytic orchids: the velamen radicum and its role in water and nutrient uptake
journal, January 2013


Dew deposition on epiphytic bromeliad leaves: an important event in a Mexican tropical dry deciduous forest
journal, September 2003


Epiphytes improve host plant water use by microenvironment modification
journal, March 2014

  • Stanton, Daniel E.; Huallpa Chávez, Jackelyn; Villegas, Luis
  • Functional Ecology, Vol. 28, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12249

Foliar water uptake: Processes, pathways, and integration into plant water budgets: Foliar Water Uptake
journal, October 2018

  • Berry, Z. Carter; Emery, Nathan C.; Gotsch, Sybil G.
  • Plant, Cell & Environment, Vol. 42, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/pce.13439

Ancestral stomatal control results in a canalization of fern and lycophyte adaptation to drought
journal, February 2013

  • McAdam, Scott A. M.; Brodribb, Timothy J.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 198, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.12190

A mesic maximum in biological water use demarcates biome sensitivity to aridity shifts
journal, November 2017

  • Good, Stephen P.; Moore, Georgianne W.; Miralles, Diego G.
  • Nature Ecology & Evolution, Vol. 1, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0371-8

Doubling the estimate of invertebrate biomass in a rainforest canopy
journal, June 2004

  • Ellwood, Martin D. F.; Foster, William A.
  • Nature, Vol. 429, Issue 6991
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature02560

SIMULATED CLIMATOLOGY OF A GENERAL CIRCULATION MODEL WITH A HYDROLOGIC CYCLE 1
journal, December 1965


The importance of interception and why we should delete the term evapotranspiration from our vocabulary
journal, May 2004

  • Savenije, Hubert H. G.
  • Hydrological Processes, Vol. 18, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1002/hyp.5563

The effect of stand species composition on water storage capacity of the organic layers of forest soils
journal, September 2014

  • Ilek, Anna; Kucza, Jarosław; Szostek, Małgorzata
  • European Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 134, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10342-014-0842-2

Resurrection Plants and the Secrets of Eternal Leaf
journal, February 2000


Creation of the WATCH Forcing Data and Its Use to Assess Global and Regional Reference Crop Evaporation over Land during the Twentieth Century
journal, October 2011

  • Weedon, G. P.; Gomes, S.; Viterbo, P.
  • Journal of Hydrometeorology, Vol. 12, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1175/2011JHM1369.1

Surface Water Storage Capacity of Twenty Tree Species in Davis, California
journal, January 2016

  • Xiao, Qingfu; McPherson, E. Gregory
  • Journal of Environment Quality, Vol. 45, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.2134/jeq2015.02.0092

Habitat moisture is an important driver of patterns of sap flow and water balance in tropical montane cloud forest epiphytes
journal, June 2016


Understory vegetation as a forest ecosystem driver: evidence from the northern Swedish boreal forest
journal, October 2005


The importance of epiphytes to total rainfall interception by a tropical montane rain forest in Costa Rica
journal, June 2004


Temperate rainforest lichens in New Zealand: high thallus water content can severely limit photosynthetic CO2 exchange
journal, September 1993

  • Lange, O. L.; B�del, B.; Heber, U.
  • Oecologia, Vol. 95, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1007/BF00320981

Desiccation-tolerance in bryophytes: a review
journal, December 2007


Temporal Dynamics in the Concentration, Flux, and Optical Properties of Tree-Derived Dissolved Organic Matter in an Epiphyte-Laden Oak-Cedar Forest: Temporal dynamics of tree-DOM
journal, November 2017

  • Van Stan, John T.; Wagner, Sasha; Guillemette, François
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 122, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1002/2017JG004111

Vascular epiphytes in the temperate zones–a review
journal, March 2005


Life in the treetops: ecophysiological strategies of canopy epiphytes in a tropical montane cloud forest
journal, August 2015

  • Gotsch, Sybil G.; Nadkarni, Nalini; Darby, Alexander
  • Ecological Monographs, Vol. 85, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1890/14-1076.1

Orchid pseudobulbs – `false' bulbs with a genuine importance in orchid growth and survival!
journal, March 2000


A review and evaluation of forest canopy epiphyte roles in the partitioning and chemical alteration of precipitation
journal, December 2015


Dew absorption by the leaf trichomes of Combretum leprosum in the Brazilian semiarid region
journal, January 2016

  • Pina, Ana L. C. B.; Zandavalli, Roberta B.; Oliveira, Rafael S.
  • Functional Plant Biology, Vol. 43, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1071/FP15337

Root biomass distribution in a moist tropical montane forest
journal, April 1992


Contrasting roles of interception and transpiration in the hydrological cycle – Part 2: Moisture recycling
journal, January 2014

  • van der Ent, R. J.; Wang-Erlandsson, L.; Keys, P. W.
  • Earth System Dynamics, Vol. 5, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.5194/esd-5-471-2014

A predictive model of rainfall interception in forests, 1. Derivation of the model from observations in a plantation of Corsican pine
journal, January 1971


The role of epiphytes in rainfall interception by forests in the Pacific Northwest. II. Field measurements at the branch and canopy scale
journal, April 2006

  • Pypker, Thomas G.; Unsworth, Michael H.; Bond, Barbara J.
  • Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 36, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1139/x05-286

Abscisic acid (ABA) relations in the aquatic resurrection plant Chamaegigas intrepidus under naturally fluctuating environmental conditions
journal, August 1997


Beyond the water balance
journal, May 2017

  • McDonnell, Jeffrey J.
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 10, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2964

The hydroclimatic and ecophysiological basis of cloud forest distributions under current and projected climates
journal, May 2014

  • Oliveira, Rafael S.; Eller, Cleiton B.; Bittencourt, Paulo R. L.
  • Annals of Botany, Vol. 113, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcu060

Leaf surface traits and water storage retention affect photosynthetic responses to leaf surface wetness among wet tropical forest and semiarid savanna plants
journal, July 2017

  • Aparecido, Luiza M. T.; Miller, Gretchen R.; Cahill, Anthony T.
  • Tree Physiology, Vol. 37, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpx092

The velamen radicum is common among terrestrial monocotyledons
journal, September 2017

  • Zotz, Gerhard; Schickenberg, Nina; Albach, Dirk
  • Annals of Botany, Vol. 120, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcx097

Epiphytic Lichen Biomass in Managed and Old-Growth Boreal Forests: Effect of Branch Quality
journal, February 1996

  • Esseen, Per-Anders; Renhorn, Karl-Erik; Pettersson, Roger B.
  • Ecological Applications, Vol. 6, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.2307/2269566

Vapor pressure deficit predicts epiphyte abundance across an elevational gradient in a tropical montane region
journal, December 2017

  • Gotsch, Sybil G.; Davidson, Kenneth; Murray, Jessica G.
  • American Journal of Botany, Vol. 104, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1700247

Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming
journal, January 2006

  • Alan Pounds, J.; Bustamante, Martín R.; Coloma, Luis A.
  • Nature, Vol. 439, Issue 7073
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature04246

Impacts of Vegetation and Precipitation on Throughfall Heterogeneity in a Tropical Pre-Montane Transitional Cloud Forest
journal, October 2014

  • Teale, Natalie G.; Mahan, Hayden; Bleakney, Sarah
  • Biotropica, Vol. 46, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1111/btp.12166

Canopy Roots: Convergent Evolution in Rainforest Nutrient Cycles
journal, November 1981


Resurrection Plants: The Puzzle of Surviving Extreme Vegetative Desiccation
journal, May 2005


Biological response to climate change on a tropical mountain
journal, April 1999

  • Pounds, J. Alan; Fogden, Michael P. L.; Campbell, John H.
  • Nature, Vol. 398, Issue 6728
  • DOI: 10.1038/19297

Use of Midlatitude Soil Moisture and Meteorological Observations to Validate Soil Moisture Simulations with Biosphere and Bucket Models
journal, January 1995


How Much Water is in the Tank? Model Calculations for Two Epiphytic Bromeliads
journal, February 1999


Absorption of ant-provided carbon dioxide and nitrogen by a tropical epiphyte
journal, May 1995

  • Treseder, Kathleen K.; Davidson, Diane W.; Ehleringer, James R.
  • Nature, Vol. 375, Issue 6527
  • DOI: 10.1038/375137a0

Estimating global carbon uptake by lichens and bryophytes with a process-based model
journal, January 2013


The functional roles of epiphytes and arboreal soils in tropical montane cloud forests
journal, July 2016

  • Gotsch, Sybil G.; Nadkarni, Nalini; Amici, Autumn
  • Journal of Tropical Ecology, Vol. 32, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1017/S026646741600033X

The value of wet leaves
journal, June 2018

  • Dawson, Todd E.; Goldsmith, Gregory R.
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 219, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.15307

Water storage and evaporation as constituents of rainfall interception
journal, December 1998


Desiccation-Tolerance in Lichens: A Review
journal, December 2008


Revival of respiration and photosynthesis in dried leaves of Polypodium polypodioides
journal, January 1968


Fine Litter Dynamics within the Tree Canopy of a Tropical Cloud Forest
journal, December 1991

  • Nadkarni, Nalini M.; Matelson, Teri J.
  • Ecology, Vol. 72, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.2307/1941560

Ecology of desiccation tolerance in bryophytes: A conceptual framework and methodology
journal, June 2017