Epiphytes from a forest type transition zone in the Choco biogeographic region, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Tropical moist forests are ecosystems of high biodiversity and high endemism, like the Choco biogeographic ecoregion. Few studies have characterized this vegetation system, and less attention has been given to the epiphytes. The aim of this study, was to evaluate the diversity and composition of vascular and nonvascular epiphytes, in a transition zone between tropical moist forest and tropical dry forest in the Choco biogeographic region of Valle del Cauca, Colombia. For this study, the data were grouped into six zones along the Loboguerrero-Buenaventura road: Zone 1 was closest to the Pacific Ocean (tropical moist forest) and Zone 6 was closest to the subxerophytic enclave of The Dagua River (transition zone to tropical dry forest). The data also were grouped depending on exposure to light (microsites), and the sites were categorized as open, semi-open and closed. A total of 43 trees densely covered by epiphytes were sampled: non-vascular epiphytes were sampled up to 2 m high, while vascular epiphytes were sampled along the entire phorophyte. A total of 485 specimens of non-vascular epiphytes belonging to 77 species of lichens, five of liverworts and eight of mosses were collected, for a total of 90 species. In addition, 5 987 individuals belonging to 24 species of vascular epiphytes were found; Bromeliaceae (six species) was the richest in species, followed by Gesneriaceae, Orchidaceae and Polypodiaceae (each with four species). We found 25 new records of lichens for Colombia and 26 for the Choco biogeographic region; for vascular epiphytes, we found 11 new records for this same Choco region. The richness and diversity of nonvascular epiphytic communities were affected by the zone and the microsite in which the trees were located, while the vascular epiphytic communities, were affected by the zone along the road. Thus, the richness and diversity of the communities of nonvascular epiphytes were affected by both the forest type and the microsite where the trees were found, while communities of vascular epiphytes, were affected only by the forest type.