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Department of Plant Sciences

New insights for cloudforest epiphyte distribution and diversity

A new paper by the Griffiths group. has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B:Biological Sciences.

The paper represents a major study describing how the distribution of liverworts and mosses, which dominate the canopy as epiphytes in cloudforest communities, can be defined by their stable isotope content (13C, 18O). Such high altitude forest formations are under threat from deforestation and climate change, and their huge diversity and associated biomass make a significant contribution to carbon and water storage. The study was initially undertaken through the amazing fieldwork exploits of Aline Horwath, who use rope access techniques to climb trees at sites along a 3000m transect from Amazonia into the Andes of Peru, and sampled the diversity and biomass of epiphytes at various heights into the canopy crown.

Horwath AB, Royles J, Tito R, GudiƱo JA, Allen NS, Farfan-Rios W, Rapp JM, Silman MR, Malhi Y, Swamy V, Latorre Farfan JP, Griffiths H. (2019) Bryophyte stable isotope composition, diversity and biomass define tropical montane cloud forest extent. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.