Biodiversity and Conservation 10: 2139–2152, 2001.
© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
High foliicolous lichen alpha-diversity on individual
leaves in Costa Rica and Amazonian Ecuador
and MARIO MATZER
Lehrstuhl für Pﬂanzensystematik, Universität Bayreuth, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany;
Institut für Botanik, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Holteigasse 6, A-8010 Graz, Austria;
*Author for correspondence (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; fax: +49-921-552786)
Received 18 July 2000; accepted in revised form 24 January 2001
Abstract. Two individual, dicotyledoneous leaves (125 and 98 cm
in size) and one composed palm
leaf (c. 6800 cm
in size), gathered at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica, and Jatun Satcha Biological
Station, Amazonian Ecuador, were screened for small-scale foliicolous lichen diversity. On the dicotyledo-
neous leaf from Costa Rica, 49 lichens and one lichenicolous fungus were found, while a comparable leaf
from Ecuador revealed 46 lichens and two lichenicolous fungi. The palm leaf yielded 81 lichens and one
lichenicolous fungus. This is the highest alpha-diversity so far reported for foliicolous lichens on individual
leaves and invites for comparison with tree diversity in tropical rain forests. Due to the high proportion
of species represented by a single thallus, the taxonomic diversity of lichens on individual leaves (or trees
in selected plots) cannot be self-supporting, but reﬂects a high degree of dispersion or entropy within the
community of which the individual leaf (or selected plot) is part. Diversity is therefore fractal, showing
similar patterns at different scales, each part of a given community reﬂecting the entire community. Thus,
mechanisms that result in high small-scale diversity must be looked for at the community level.
Key words: alpha-diversity, Amazonian Ecuador, Costa Rica, diversity maintenance, foliicolous lichens,
Jatun Satcha, La Selva
A particular feature of tropical rain forests is their high vegetative small-scale diver-
sity. More than 200 species of trees per hectare (at dbh = 10 cm) are not rare, and
more than 300 species (up to 473 at dbh = 5 cm) have been found in Amazonian
Ecuador and the Atlantic rain forest of Brazil (Gentry 1988, 1990; Valencia et al.
1994, Spichinger et al. 1996; Thomaz and Rabello pers. comm. 2000). Trees serve
as phorophytes for structurally complex and diverse epiphyte communities, both vas-
cular and non-vascular. Due to the difﬁcult taxonomy, complete site inventories of
tropical non-vascular epiphytes, particularly lichens, have not yet been carried out.
However, preliminary studies (Montfoort and Ek 1990; Sipman 1997; Komposch and
Hafellner 1998; Lücking 1999a) suggest that the number of lichen species within a
single spot of lowland rain forest may be as high as 600, accompanied by 200–400
bryophyte species. Aptroot (1997) recorded 173 lichen species on a single tree in
Papua New Guinea.