Biodiv Sci ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (11): 1184-1195.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019120

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Progress on the clonality of epiphytic ferns

Jingqi Sun1,2,Quan Chen2,Hangyu Li2,3,Yanfen Chang4,Hede Gong1,Liang Song2,Huazheng Lu2,*()   

  1. 1 School of Geography and Ecotourism, Southwest Forestry University, Kunming 650224
    2 CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303
    3 College of Biology and Chemistry, Pu’er University, Pu’er, Yunnan 665000;
    4 College of Life Sciences and Environment, Hengyang Normal University, Hengyang, Hunan 421008
  • Received:2019-04-08 Accepted:2019-10-08 Online:2019-11-20 Published:2020-01-17
  • Contact: Lu Huazheng


Lycophytes and ferns display dual life-history traits including a cryptogam (spore) and spermatophyte (vascular bundle) form, which can be attributed to their specific evolutionary history. Among them, epiphytic ferns occupy unique habitats in forests, and their life-history strategies and evolutionary history exhibit close relationships with forest ecosystems. Most epiphytic ferns are capable of clonal growth. However, it is yet unclear how clonal life-history traits affect the adaptation of epiphytic ferns to forest canopies. Here, we review studies of rhizomatous clonal growth of epiphytic ferns, the relationship of fern clonality with ecological adaptation, the clonal forms of ferns, and the evolution of fern clonality. We then discuss the roles of fern clonality in the processes and functions of forest ecosystem and suggest future directions of how to combine fern ecology to global change studies.

Key words: pteridophytes, forest canopy, epiphytes, clonality, forest ecosystem, ecological functions