Photos from the Field: Hammill et al. 2014
Hammill et al. 2014. Bromeliad-associated Reductions in Host Herbivory: Do Epiphytic Bromeliads Act as Commensalists or Mutualists? Biotropica.
Many members of the family Bromeliacae are able to adopt epiphytic lifestyles and colonize trees throughout the Neotropics. Bromeliacae do not extract nutrients from their hosts and confer relatively minor costs on their host plants. We suggest that bromeliads, however, may benefit their hosts by providing habitat for predators of host plant herbivores. We report a correlation between bromeliad presence and a reduction in herbivore damage in orange trees, an effect that is increased when bromeliads are colonized by ants. Our results may have important implications for agricultural systems in the Neotropics, where bromeliads are often removed in the belief they are parasitic. We instead demonstrate that bromeliads may impart a benefit to their hosts, and speculate that under particular circumstances they may be part of a three-species mutualism.
Want to learn more about Edd Hammill’s work? Check out his webpage.
Edd and his colleagues found some great stuff inside the bromeliads…bonus points for whomever provides identifications.