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Diversity and distribution of vascular epiphytes in the forest lower canopy in Kibale National Park, western Uganda


  • The author declares no conflicts of interest



This study determined the species composition of the vascular epiphytes and the influence of substrates on the composition of the epiphytic species in the lower canopy of large host tree species. A single-rope technique was used to access the canopy. The lower canopy had 59 species distributed in fifteen families and 34 genera. The dominant families on the basis of species numbers were Orchidaceae (23), Aspleniaceae (ten) and Polypodiaceae (six). The collections included 21 ferns, 23 orchids, five Ficus spp. and ten species of herbaceous epiphytes. While the orchids and other herbaceous species decreased along a decreasing rainfall gradient, the epiphytic ferns did not. Most epiphytes utilized the light humus and heavy humus types of substrate. It is possible that the nutrients and moisture in the substrates contribute to the high diversity of epiphytes in the canopy crowns.