Ecophysiology and plant size in a tropical epiphytic fern, Asplenium nidus, in Taiwan

Craig E. Martin, Teng Chiu Lin*, Chia Chun Hsu, Shin Hwei Lin, Kuo Chuan Lin, Yue Joe Hsia, Wen Liang Chiou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies indicate that, especially in epiphytes, plant size has a strong influence on the ecophysiology of individual leaves of a plant. Extensive data sets that address this phenomenon, however, are limited to a few taxa of flowering plants. It was the purpose of this study to examine numerous physiological parameters in individuals of varying sizes of Asplenium nidus, a widespread epiphytic tropical fern, in a rain forest in northeastern Taiwan. Although stomatal dimensions and frond thickness did not vary with plant size, frond stomatal densities were higher in larger plants. Frond elemental concentration did not vary with plant size for nitrogen, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium, while the concentrations of carbon, calcium, and potassium changed with plant size, though in different ways. The osmotic concentration of liquid expressed from the fronds did not change with plant size, nor did chlorophyll concentrations and chlorophyll a/b ratio. Fronds excised from smaller plants contained more water yet lost water at lower rates in laboratory drying experiments. Although rates of net CO2 exchange of the fronds measured in situ in the field appeared to increase with plant size, this increase and other size-related differences in gas exchange parameters were not significant. Although some aspects of the ecophysiology of this epiphytic fern varied with changes in plant size, most physiological parameters did not. Thus, the results of this study lend only little support to past findings that plant size is an important consideration in ecophysiological studies of plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-72
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Plant Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecophysiology
  • Elemental nutrients
  • Epiphytes
  • Gas exchange
  • Morphology
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant size
  • Taiwan
  • Water relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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