A plot of 1200 m2 was selected to represent the average epiphyte abundance of a moist subtropical broadleaved forest at Fushan in north-eastern Taiwan. In this plot, all epiphytes of 18 sample trees with dbh > 5 cm were removed and weighed to estimate their biomass and nutrient content. We found that the biomass of epiphytes and their associated detrital matter in this plot was 3360 kg ha-1. The nutrient capital of the epiphytes (kg ha-1) was: N = 42.4, P = 1.9, Mg = 5.5, Na = 1.3, Ca = 14.5 and K = 28.9. Although the epiphytic biomass constituted less than 2% of the total above-ground biomass of the forest, the epiphytes comprised about 21-43% of the total foliage nutrient capital of the ecosystem. Because nutrients contained in epiphytes and tree foliage are more readily available to other organisms than those in woody components, epiphytes may play a greater role in ecosystem nutrient cycling than their relatively small biomass would suggest.
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