Epiphytes: a study of the history of forest canopy research
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The development of new and more versatile access techniques is a major contributor to the continuously growing field of canopy research. Methods such as cranes, canopy walkways, hot-air balloons, ladders and rope access techniques enabled scientist for the first time to conduct proximate studies of canopy organisms. One of the most studied groups of canopy dwellers are epiphytes. With their versatile adaptations to a life above ground level and their vast abundance, epiphytes contribute profoundly to the forest diversity and ecosystem processes. Most epiphytes have species-specific habitat preference within individual phorophytes. However these preferences are limited by biotic and abiotic factors. As a result epiphytes are threatened by forest degradation and climate change. More research is necessary to assess their importance within and between ecosystems and their role in direct and indirect forest processes. Furthermore future research on epiphytic plants needs to focus more on biotic interactions such as herbivory, pathogens and competition.
Batke, S. (2012) 'Epiphytes: a study of the history of forest canopy research', The Plymouth Student Scientist, 5(1), p. 253-268.
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