Original article

Nematode trophic structure in phytotelmata of Canistropsis billbergioides and Nidularium procerum (Bromeliaceae) in the Atlantic Forest - variability in relation to climate variables and plant architecture

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Abstract:

In the first ecological study ever conducted on the nematofauna associated with natural phytotelmata, nematodes were systematically sampled during a 24 month-period in the phytotelmata of two bromeliad species in the Atlantic Forest, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. Samplings revealed a wide range of nematodes from the bacteriophagous, mycophagous, predator and ingestor of unicellular eukaryotes trophic groups. Plant-parasitic forms, probably contaminants, were only occasionally found. The trophic structure – assessed by the total abundance of nematodes and the abundance of nematodes per trophic group - was significantly distinct among the leaf axils located at the three architectonic levels of the plants - base, middle and upper - particularly in Canistropsis billbergioides. The leaf axils located at the base and middle levels seemed more conducive to nematofauna. The nematofauna presented a seasonality significantly related to rainfall and temperature fluctuations, but this seasonality was not related to the amount of organic matter – mostly canopy litter – deposited in artificial collectors positioned next to the bromeliads.

Highlights:

  • Bromeliad phytotelmata host a wide range of nematodes belonging to different genera and trophic groups.
  • The trophic structure presented some distinctions between the two bromeliad species studied.
  • The trophic structure presented distinctions between leaf axils located in different positions on the plants.
  • The nematofauna presented a seasonality related to rainfall and temperature fluctuations.

Keywords:

phytotelma, bromeliads, meiofauna, nematofauna, rainforest.


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