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Ecological diversity and adaptive tendencies in the tropical fern Trichomanes L. (Hymenophyllaceae) with special reference to climbing and epiphytic habits

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Among the basal fern families, the Hymenophyllaceae, with more than 600 species, display a high diversity in terms of their morphology and the habitats that they occupy. We have chosen to focus on Trichomanes L., a clearly defined genus for which a phylogeny is presently being developed, to investigate the appearance of the climbing and epiphytic habits, as well as the related supposed adaptive characters. In this study we present the first review of the different ecological types within the genus: terrestrial, climbing (divided into hemi-epiphytic forms and true lianas), and epiphytic types. The study of several features concerning stem morphology and leaf size allows a proposal on relationships between ecology and plant morphology. Terrestrial species display a thick monocaulous rhizome with robust roots and short internodes. Climbing species are characterized by a branched, thick, creeping rhizome with long internodes. Epiphytic species also exhibit long, creeping and branching stems with long internodes but the rhizome is fine to filiform. Under these circumstances, there is a reduction of root system and frond size leading to dwarfism in numerous instances. This may be related to an extreme hygrophilous epiphytic strategy. Finally, hypotheses on the evolution of these habits and hence on the evolutionary relationships between ecology and characters are presented and discussed. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2003, 142, 41–63.
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Keywords: filmy ferns; hygrophilous; lianescence; pteridophytes; rain forests; vines

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: EPHE, Laboratoire de Phanérogamie, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, F-75005 Paris, France 2: Albrecht-von-Haller-Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften, Abt. Systematische Botanik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Untere Karspüle 2, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

Publication date: 01 May 2003

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