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Braz J Biol. 2010 Aug;70(3):521-8.

Biodiversity and spatial distribution of epiphytic ferns on Alsophila setosa Kaulf. (Cyatheaceae) caudices in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

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Programa de Pós-Graduação em Botânica, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


The extractive exploitation of the tree fern Alsophila setosa Kaulf. alters forest formations and diminishes the availability of micro-habitat for epiphytes. A survey of epiphytic fern communities on A. setosa at 16 study sites in different forest formations in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, documented the occurrence of 31 species representing 16 genera and six families. The greatest richness of species occurred in Polypodiaceae (39%) and in the genus Asplenium L. (22%). Habitual holoepiphyte was the predominant ecological category, representing 61% of the species. Similarity analysis demonstrated heterogeneity in the composition of the epiphytic ferns at the study sites and indicated that the vegetation type is not the main factor for floristic difference. The lowest total specific richness (5) was recorded for the seasonal deciduous forest site. The majority of the sites presented similar averages of phorophyte height and epiphyte richness per caudex. In 25% of the sites the height of the host plants presented significant correlation with specific richness. Considering that the majority of the epiphytes are habitual and that some of them occur exclusively or preferentially on tree ferns, the maintenance of these host plants in the vegetation is essential for the conservation of epiphytic species.

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