Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 January 2017
Epiphytes represent keystone resources for many arthropod and vertebrate species, however their ecology remains poorly explored, especially within the palaeotropics. Several recent studies have examined relationships between epiphyte richness and characteristics of local habitats, although these have all focused on neotropical forests. Here, we aim to determine whether predictors of neotropical epiphyte richness are consistent at a palaeotropical site. A total of 44 host trees (dbh range 25–288 cm) were sampled at two study sites on Buton Island, Indonesia. For each tree, epiphyte richness and seven variables relating to characteristics of the host tree and surrounding habitats were recorded: site (a proxy value for disturbance level and water availability), host above-ground biomass (agb), altitude, bark texture, exposure, emergence and crown area. Gaussian GLM analyses indicated that the percentage deviance explained in epiphyte richness per host was greatest for agb (20.9%), crown area (19.6%) and site (15.5%); similar to previous findings from the neotropics. Results therefore suggest that high epiphyte diversity within palaeotropical forests is most likely to be found in large tracts of undisturbed forest, supporting large, broad-crowned trees.