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Fine partitioning of epiphyte habitat within Johansson zones in tropical Australian rain forest trees


Sanger, JC and Kirkpatrick, JB, Fine partitioning of epiphyte habitat within Johansson zones in tropical Australian rain forest trees, Biotropica, 49, (1) pp. 27-34. ISSN 0006-3606 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

DOI: doi:10.1111/btp.12351


For over three decades, the Johansson zones have been widely used in epiphyte studies as a way of stratifying the host tree into habitat zones. The usefulness of this system, however, has been questioned. We test the effectiveness of the Johansson zones by grouping epiphyte species by the substrate and microclimatic attributes of their individual occurrences and assessing the fidelity of these groups to the Johansson zones. Habitat characteristics were recorded for every individual epiphyte on 30 trees in the lower montane rain forests of northeastern Australia. Twenty-four epiphyte species were agglomerated into four groups using Ward’s method. Group 4 was highly distinct and included shade-loving species and nomadic vines from the lower zones of the host trees. Group 3 contained species from the most exposed habitats. Group 1 had higher light levels and lower substrate thickness than Group 2, yet both groups had close to identical distributions over the Johansson zones. This suggests that groups of epiphyte species may utilize different micro-sites within the same zone. While the Johansson zones are a useful tool in epiphyte studies, finer partitioning of habitat within the host tree may be missed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:light, microhabitat, substrate, tropical wet forest, vascular epiphytes, vertical structure, rainforest, tropics, zonation
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Sanger, JC (Ms Jennifer Sanger)
UTAS Author:Kirkpatrick, JB (Professor James Kirkpatrick)
ID Code:114224
Year Published:2017 (online first 2016)
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2017-02-08
Last Modified:2017-11-17

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