Contemporary Problems of Ecology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 434–443 | Cite as

Experience of a Synthetic Approach to an Ecological Classification of Vascular Epiphytes

  • N. M. DerzhavinaEmail author


On the basis of an investigation into epiphytic ferns and taking into account the literature data, information on ecological classifications of vascular epiphytes has been summarized and a multiple ecological classification is proposed in which vascular epiphytes are grouped into three blocks of morphofunctional types (MFT): facultative epiphytes (protoepiphytes), obligate epiphytes (holoepiphytes), and hemiepiphytes. The main criterion underlying this division is the degree of specialization of plants to the epiphytic life pattern. Each group includes several subgroups diverging on the basis of the presence of special morphological structures providing epiphytes with nutrients and water under conditions of their deficit, as well as life under the conditions of low irradiation and high hydrature. Within the subgroups, the variants are distinguished and the preadaptive and adaptive mechanisms used by the epiphytes in order to cope with the specific environment are defined for the variants. Physiofunctional types with specialization to an epiphytic mode of life are distinguished as well.


ecological classification protoepiphytes holoepiphytes hemiepiphytes preadaptive and adaptive mechanisms morphofunctional and physiofunctional types 



I am sincerely grateful to I.V. Tatarenko (The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom) and Prof. K. Kondo (Hiroshima University, Japan), who graciously provided the opportunity for collecting field materials as part of their expeditions.


Conflict of interests. The authors declares that there is no conflict of interest.

Statement on the welfare of animals. This article does not contain any studies involving animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Orel State UniversityOrelRussia

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