Exploring a new world: hyper-epilithic plants on inselbergs in Brazil

Isolated rock outcrops consisting of bare rocky slopes that are isolated from their surroundings are called inselbergs. They form very old landscape elements that are characterized by extremely harsh environmental conditions(e.g. high temperatures, lack of water). Plants growing on inselbergs possess various adaptations in order to survive, such as desiccation tolerance and water storage organs.

3 Greyish and brownish colour of inselbergs, Minas Gerais, Brazil - Vriesea spec., IB, near Canaa, road to Ataleia

The most extreme habitat type on tropical inselbergs are vertical rock walls which are usually to steep to be colonized by higher plants. The only exception is formed by „hyper-epilithic“ plants that exclusively occur on inselbergs in Brazil.

inselbergs, Canaa do Brasil
Vriesea spec., on steep slopes, Fazenda das Pedras, Bahia

All hyper-epilithic species belong to the Bromeliaceae and knowledge about their ecology is sparse due to difficult access to their growth sites. Within the framework of an interdisciplinary cooperation we are looking for students that are willing to explore a new world of biodiversity!