Original paper

Phytomass and water-storing capacity of epiphytic rain forest bryophyte communities in S Ecuador

Kü rschner, Harald; Parolly, Gerald


Bryophyte communities in the montane rain forests of S Ecuador visibly comprise a large proportion of the epiphytic load. The phytomass and water-storing capacity of these communities is estimated along an altitudinal gradient using a non-destructive sampling method. When the total tree substrate surface area of the forests is considered the results clearly contradict the widely accepted view that bryophyte phytomass and water retention capacity increases towards timberline (ca. 3150 m). Both values clearly decrease. The highest values were found instead in montane rain forest at the more moderate elevations of 2300–2500 m. The greatest bryophyte phytomass (26,376 kg/ha) and water retention capacity (188,627 l/ha per single rainfall) were observed in the 'extrazonal' quèbrada forests of the study area. However, high bryophyte phytomass and high water retention values should not be attributed to high rainfall alone but are obviously related to increased humidity from daily fog and mist.


bryophyte communitiesecuadorepiphytesn andesphytomassrainforestswater storage