Faculty Advisor

Woods, Carrie

Area of Study

Science and Mathematics

Publication Date

Summer 2018


As a foundation species, epiphytes play an essential role in augmenting biodiversity within an ecosystem. In the Hoh temperate rainforest, Acer macrophyllum (bigleaf maple) trees host more epiphytic biomass than any other tree in the Pacific Northwest. Previous studies in tropical rainforests, as well as in the Woods lab have used broad-scale zonation techniques to examine how resource partitioning creates epiphytic specialization, but the variation in epiphyte species around the circumference of the trunk and branches suggests that the true heterogeneity of the tree is left uncaptured by this method. Using dot-intercept method, fine-scale epiphyte distribution data was taken from around the entire circumference of one bigleaf maple tree every meter up the trunk and for three meters along a branch. Factors zone, structure, and orientation all had significant effects on species richness. Trunk zones with more than one structural characteristic have higher species richness. Analysis of species distribution patterns show that many species appear to be specialized to certain trunk zones or substrates, suggesting that the unique structural characteristics of a given bigleaf maple tree allow for a greater diversity of non-vascular epiphytes on the irregular structures.


University of Puget Sound