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A microhistological survey on the trees of a relict subtropical laurel forest from the Macaronesian Islands as a base for assessing vertebrate plant diet

AuthorsMarrero, Patricia CSIC ORCID ; Nogales, Manuel CSIC ORCID
KeywordsEvergreen forest
Feeding ecology
Historical keys
Plant epidermis
Issue Date5-Aug-2005
PublisherAcademic Press
Blackwell Publishing
CitationBotanical Journal of the Linnean Society 148(4): 409-426 (2005)
AbstractA microhistological collection and its respective key on the leaves and fleshy fruits produced by the mostly endemic trees that integrate the relict laurel forest in the Macaronesian Islands are presented. Epidermal tissues from the adaxial and abaxial surfaces of leaves and fruits of 23 species were extracted by scraping and prepared on individual microscope slides. An optical microscope with a camera lucida fixed at magnifications of ×400 was used to analyse and to draw the morphological traits of epidermal tissues to the same scale. Furthermore, quantitative data for those congeneric species were also obtained by using an image analysis program system. The results indicate that this microhistological method permits the differentiation of practically all species of trees present in the Macaronesian laurel forest. Furthermore, most species belonging to the same taxa (genus or family) show a general common pattern in the morphology of the different epidermal traits. Lastly, despite the effort that constitutes the preparation of plant microhistological collections of a determined ecosystem, it is of basic importance because it makes possible the performance of feeding ecological studies of several herbivorous and frugivorous vertebrate species. These results provide crucial information that elucidates the functioning of the food web and energetic flux dynamics of the Macaronesian laurel forest ecosystem.
Description18 pages, 98 figures, 3 tables.
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