Species Composition, Diversity and Distribution of Vascular Epiphytes in the Kihansi Gorge Forest, Tanzania
This study aimed to assess the species composition, diversity and distribution of vascular epiphytes in the Kihansi Gorge Forest. Epiphytes sampling was conducted in twenty sampling plots established in the strip of riverine forest within the Kihansi Gorge. All vascular epiphytes growing on trees (phorophytes) rooted in the plots were sampled using ground-based technique as the method of access to the tree canopies. A total of 476 epiphyte individuals belonging to 20 species and 10 families were recorded in the study area. Among the twenty species recorded, Drynaria laurentii was the most abundant and most widely distributed in the study area. The epiphyte individuals were unevenly distributed within the twenty species. Epiphyte species richness and diversity was highest in KM transect and lowest in KS transect, while the epiphyte abundance was highest in KH transect. Along the phorophytes, 62% of the vascular epiphyte individuals occupied a zone upper than ten metres. In general, the Kihansi Gorge Forest is a home to twenty epiphyte species, dominated by ferns and orchids. The highest diversity in the study area was found in KM transect which was located at mid-elevation. On the phorophytes, higher abundance of epiphytes was found in the upper zone.
Keywords: Kihansi Gorge; Vascular epiphyte; Canopy; Diversity; Phorophyte
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