Reproductive phenology of epiphytes in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Phenology of plants, or the timing of life cycle events, is important for understanding plant ecology, forest dynamics, and plant-animal interactions. In tropical forests, studies that document epiphyte reproductive phenology are relatively few because of the challenges of tracking plants that live in the canopy. Phenological patterns for 279 individuals of 7 epiphyte species were examined across 12 months in a tropical montane forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Epiphytes were located in one of two common tree species, Ficus tuerckheimii (Moraceae) or Ocotea tonduzii (Lauraceae). Flowering and fruiting (i.e., when ripe or unripe fruit is present on the plant) of study plants was recorded on monthly intervals, and phenology was examined as a function of the season at the study site (i.e., wet, transition, or dry season), and pollinator syndrome (bird-, or insect-pollinated) and seed dispersal syndrome (bird-, bat-, or wind-dispersed) of each plant. Though some epiphyte species flowered and fruited throughout the year, the majority showed significant seasonality in phenological events. Based on circular statistics, the timing of mean flowering of different epiphyte species varied, however, timing of mean fruiting for most species tended to occur during the wet season. Insect- and bird-pollinated species had peak flowering during the dry season and late wet season, respectively. Bird-dispersed fruits were present each month of the year with peaks from February to October and again in December. Wind-dispersed fruits were observed eight months of the year with a peak in the early wet season. The timing of epiphyte flowering coincided with flowering of large trees in the area. Epiphyte fruiting, however, is distinct from large tree fruiting. Our results demonstrate the seasonal nature of flowering and fruiting in individual epiphyte species while also highlighted the asynchronous nature of phenological events amongst the epiphyte community. nown species of Holopothrips to have the unusual condition of two pairs of epimeral setae on the pronotum. This new species was compared to the other three Holothripsspecies, and the remarkable variation of the female spermatheca and the male sternal pore is illustrated. Further research is needed to confirm that several generations of thrips occupy empty galls, to determine whether adult thrips do indeed move between galls, and to explore in greater detail their possible chemical defense.
Keywords: arboreal plants, biodiversity, cloud forest, Neotropical, phenological patterns, reproductive biology, tropical canopy