Ackerman J.D.

Orchid-Phorophyte Relationships in a Forest Watershed in Puerto Rico

Orchid-Phorophyte Relationships in a Forest Watershed in Puerto Rico
Luis E. Migenis and James D. Ackerman
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 9, No. 2 (May, 1993), pp. 231-240

Orchid diversity, distribution and host specificity were examined in a tropical watershed in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico. Eleven orchid species occur in the area. The low diversity is attributed to island isolation and large-scale hurricane disturbances. Pleurothallis ruscifolia and Maxillaria coccinea were by far the most abundant species in the area and occurred on the largest number of host species and host zones. None of the orchids were host specific or host zone specialists although preferences for hosts and vertical host zones were encountered. Only 8.2% of the 426 trees and shrubs and 24.4% of the 45 species surveyed were orchid phorophytes (= hosts). Examination of host distribution by diameter at breast height (DBH) showed that 80.5% were greater than 16 cm DBH. Orchid species in the area tend to occur on rough bark hosts, but their preferences are not statistically significant. Guarea guidonia (Meliaceae) and Dacryodes excelsa (Burseraceae) are the two most important orchid hosts in our study site comprising 62.9% of all host trees. Careful management of these two tree species is suggested, since these species may be crucial to the maintenance of orchid abundance and diversity in the area.
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