NSF (EAR): 1954538: Collaborative Research: RUI: Hydrology of the Vegetation on Vegetation: Comparison and Scaling of Rainfall Interception and Solute Alteration by Common Arboreal Epiphytes

Grants and Contracts Details


Abstract NSF (EAR): 1954538: Collaborative Research: RUI: Hydrology of the vegetation on vegetation: Comparison and scaling of rainfall interception and solute alteration by common arboreal epiphytes PI: Sybil G. Gotsch For 1/3 of the land surface, the first process in the rainfall-to-discharge hydrologic flow path is the partitioning of rain by forest canopies. Thus, the canopy ecohydrological processes governing rainfall partitioning affect all down-gradient hydrological processes and related biogeochemical activities (i.e., soil solution chemistry, fine root patterns, and soil microbial community structure/function), resulting in >$40 million in annual statewide stormwater services, supplying hundreds of kg of dissolved solutes ha-1 year-1 to soils, and mitigating regional warming. Because of this importance, a substantial body of literature exists on hydrological roles of leaves and bark in rainfall redistribution and chemical alteration. However, a major canopy element has been overlooked: arboreal epiphytes. Not only are epiphytes ubiquitous across forest ecosystems, they represent some of Earth’s most water-absorbent terrestrial organisms: most lichens, bryophytes, and bromeliads can store > 1000% of their dry weight. Excluding these organisms significantly impacts canopy water balances and related solute exchanges. We propose to begin addressing this major knowledge gap in a southeastern US forest that has a high biomass of 3 common types of epiphytes (lichens, ferns and bromeliads) and existing data on leaf-and bark-rainfall interactions. Principal objectives are to: 1) assess/compare storage, evaporation and drainage dynamics for these epiphytes; (2) evaluate ecohydrological traits that underlie epiphyte’s water balance and determine their vulnerability to projected climate changes; (3) quantify/compare epiphyte alterations to rainfall solute characteristics; (4) scale findings to estimate relative stand-level influence of epiphytes on net rainwater/solute fluxes.
Effective start/end date1/1/235/31/24


  • Franklin and Marshall College: $40,411.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.