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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 681369, 10 pages
Research Article

Differential Effects of Lichens versus Liverworts Epiphylls on Host Leaf Traits in the Tropical Montane Rainforest, Hainan Island, China

1The Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Global Changes, School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
2School of Environmental Science and Safety Engineering, Tianjin University of Technology, Tianjin 300384, China
3Department of Environmental Studies, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA
4Center for Tropical Plant Conservation, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Miami, FL 33156, USA
5Key Laboratory of Coastal Biology & Bioresources Utilization, Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Yantai 264003, China

Received 24 March 2014; Accepted 28 April 2014; Published 4 June 2014

Academic Editor: Marian Brestic

Copyright © 2014 Lingyan Zhou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Epiphylls widely colonize vascular leaves in moist tropical forests. Understanding the effects of epiphylls on leaf traits of host plants is critical for understanding ecological function of epiphylls. A study was conducted in a rain forest to investigate leaf traits of the host plants Photinia prunifolia colonized with epiphyllous liverworts and foliicolous lichens as well as those of uncolonized leaves. Our results found that the colonization of lichens significantly decreased leaf water content (LWC), chlorophyll (Chl) a and a + b content, and Chl a/b of P. prunifolia but increased Chl b content, while that of liverworts did not affect them as a whole. The variations of net photosynthetic rates among host leaves colonized with different coverage of lichens before or after removal treatment (a treatment to remove epiphylls from leaf surface) were greater than that colonized with liverworts. The full cover of lichens induced an increase of light compensation point (LCP) by 21% and a decrease of light saturation point (LSP) by 54% for their host leaves, whereas that of liverworts displayed contrary effects. Compared with the colonization of liverworts, lichens exhibited more negative effects on the leaf traits of P. prunifolia in different stages of colonization. The results suggest that the responses of host leaf traits to epiphylls are affected by the epiphyllous groups and coverage, which are also crucial factors in assessing ecofunctions of epiphylls in tropical forests.