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Air Plants


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Table of Contents

1. What Is an Epiphyte? Getting to Know the Epiphytes Body Plans The Epidermis Other Notable Features of the Epiphytes Starting at the Beginning Geological History Geographic Distribution Use by Humans Conservation 2. The Types of Epiphytes and Their Evolutionary Origins The Free-Living Epiphytes The Biological Underpinnings of Epiphytism How Epiphytism Evolved The Taxonomic Affiliations of the Epiphytes Genetic Heritage and Evolutionary Options Epiphytism and Speciation 3. Epiphytes in Communities and Ecosystems The Nature of Aerial Habitats Mineral Nutrients Water Light Epiphytes as Members of Communities Random Factors Also Structure Communities Ecological Succession What Makes a Tree a Host for Epiphytes? How Epiphytes Can Impact Their Hosts Nutritional Piracy Additional Ways That Epiphytes Harm Their Hosts Manifold Effects on Ecosystems 4. Water Management Variations on Basic Themes How Biological Structure Relates to Function Water Management How Epiphytes Cope with Drought Drought Avoidance Leaf Economics Roots Leaves as Proxies for Roots 5. Photosynthesis and Mineral Nutrition The Photosynthetic Syndromes C3 versus CAM-type Photosynthesis Light and Adaptive Growth Mineral Nutrition The Mistletoes 6. Reproduction and Other Interactions with Animals Pollination Fruits and Seeds Asexual Reproduction Plant Defenses Ants and Epiphytes Termites Leafy Tanks and Phytotelms Case Studies 7. The Epiphytic Monocots Orchidaceae The Vegetative Body Reproduction and Speciation The Adaptive Types Bromeliaceae Bromeliads versus Orchids Adaptations for Epiphytism Hemi-epiphytism The Atmospheric Bromeliads Araceae Amaryllidaceae and Additional Families in Order Liliales 8. The Epiphytic Eudicots Cactaceae General Characteristics Adaptations for Epiphytism Evolutionary History Ecology Reproduction Ericaceae Adaptations for Epiphytism Epiphytism and Speciation Reproductive Biology Horticulture Gesneriaceae Adaptive Variety Evolutionary History Reproductive Biology Rubiaceae Melastomataceae Apocynaceae Solanaceae 9. The Pteridophytic Epiphytes The Major Groups of Pteridophytes The Ferns The Lycophytes 10. Miscellaneous Epiphytes Piperaceae The Carnivorous Epiphytes The Stranglers and Other Primary Hemi-epiphytes The Gymnosperms Additional Oddities 11. Threats and Conservation How Epiphytes Influence Microclimates Contributions to Biodiversity Global Change Excess Nutrients Plant Invasions Habitat Loss Glossary References Subject Index Taxon Index

About the Author

David H. Benzing is Professor of Biology Emeritus at Oberlin College and the Jessie B. Cox Chair in Tropical Biology at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. He is the author of Bromeliaceae: Profile of an Adaptive Radiation, Vascular Epiphytes: General Biology and Associated Biota, and The Biology of the Bromeliads and coauthor of The Native Bromeliads of Florida.


"Benzing's love for epiphytes is clearly evident, and the book provides an excellent introduction to the field... By starting from first principles, it provides a tidy introduction to field botany to an undergraduate audience... All the basic principles of botany are covered using epiphytes as model organisms... The systematic overview of epiphyte diversity in particular provides an important, holistic grounding in epiphyte taxonomy, biogeography, and systematics... There is something in it for everyone, from newcomers to plant biology to those who regularly climb trees to do their research."-K. C. Burns, Ecology (March 2013) "Modest in size, but not in content and scope, Benzing's pithy gem of a synthesis appears 22 years after his technical monograph, Vascular Epiphytes (1990)... Summing Up: Highly recommended."-R. Schmid, Choice (November 2012) "David Benzing's exuberance is evident throughout this book. His love of epiphytes ... captivates the reader ... Benzing's is a well-conceived and well-executed testimony to epiphytes and serves to bring together up-to-date information about these not very well understood plants. It provides a basis for further inquiry to round out our understanding of this peculiar life style of plants and points out areas where further study would be productive."-William Stern, Plant Science Bulletin (Fall 2013) "Inspired by seeing an unusual plant at a childhood birthday party that led to a distinguished academic career, David H. Benzing has devoted his lifelong research to epiphytes, the extraordinary botanical denizens of the canopy. This book represents a comprehensive text covering all facets of air plants, required reading for both professional botanists and plant-lovers alike."-Margaret D. Lowman, Director of the Nature Research Center, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and Research Professor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, North Carolina State University, author of Life in the Treetops "More than twenty years after his highly praised technical monograph on vascular epiphytes, David H. Benzing leaves the ivory tower and publishes a book on 'air plants' for a broader audience. His enthusiasm for epiphytes is contagious; every page is filled with insights gained in a lifetime devoted to the study of these plants. Highly readable, his account is still technically correct and a very stimulating read not only for the layperson but also for any biology student or biologist with an interest in epiphytes."-Gerhard Zotz, University of Oldenburg and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

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