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Mineral Cycling and the Niche of Spanish Moss, Tillandsia usneoides L.
William H. Schlesinger and P. L. Marks
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 64, No. 10 (Nov. - Dec., 1977), pp. 1254-1262
Published by: Botanical Society of America, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2442489
Page Count: 9
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On the southeastern coastal plain, the occurrence and abundance of the epiphyte Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides L.; Bromeliaceae) are linked to the availability of minerals in the canopy of potential host trees. Trees with high rates of foliar leaching (e.g., cypress and oaks) provide an abundant supply of minerals (Ca, Mg, K, and P) in precipitation collected beneath the canopy. In forests of these species Spanish moss is more abundant and has higher mineral concentrations than in pine forests (e.g., phosphorus 0.04-0.06% dry weight versus 0.03-0.04%). In growth-chamber experiments the growth of Spanish moss increased in response to added phosphorus in the range of concentrations observed in field precipitation collections (0-200 μ g/l). In addition to the availability of minerals, the rate of bark sloughing from host trees and allelopathic effects may also control the local distribution of Spanish moss. Light and moisture appear to be less important factors. Thus, within a favorable climatic range, mineral and bark characteristics of host trees may be used to illustrate a niche hypervolume for this species.
American Journal of Botany © 1977 Botanical Society of America, Inc.