López-Villalobos, A., Flores-Palacios, A. y Ortiz-Pulido, R. 2008. The relationship between bark peeling rate and the distribution and mortality of two epiphyte species. Plant Ecology 198: 265-274. DOI: 10.1007/s11258-008-9402-5
Tree bark characteristics influence epiphyte establishment and survival and consequently the way in which epiphytes are distributed on trees. Tree species with peeling bark have been reported as poor epiphyte hosts. We analyzed the distribution and seedling mortality of two Tillandsia species (Bromeliaceae) in relation to rate of bark peeling of Bursera fagaroides (Burseraceae). The highest peeling rate (0.12% per day) took place on the trunk and the lowest rate on twigs (0.04% per day; branches ?2 cm in diameter). The highest proportion of Tillandsia plants appeared on twigs. The distributions of juvenile and adult plants on twigs were higher than those expected based on the distribution of first-year seedlings, suggesting that on twigs, survival could be greater than on trunks and branches, canopy areas where peeling is faster. On the trunk and branches, in contrast, the proportion of juveniles and adults were similar to or less than that expected for first-year seedlings. The main cause of mortality was peeling and the area of minor overall mortality was the trunk, suggesting that this area should be favored as the main distribution area for the Tillandsia species but is not. Our results show that the peeling rate of B. fagaroides depends on branch size and suggest that the Tillandsia distribution depends not only on peeling rate but also on seed dispersion. We suggest that to colonize B. fagaroides epiphytes would either have adaptations to counteract the peeling rate or should occur in the areas of lowest peeling rate located in the exterior crown of trees.