Host Attributes

Total abundances, total biomasses, and maximum sizes of epibiota individuals tend to increase with host age, size, and structural complexity, for both plant and animal hosts. Epiphyte distributions are often strongly stratified within individual hosts.

Terrestrial host plants tend to be large, rigid, and may live hundreds or even thousands of years, while most aquatic host plants are small, flexible, and live for a decade at most. These factors, along with inherent phylogenetic constraints and the high drag resulting from the greater density of water as a medium, limit the maximum age and size attained by aquatic epiphytes and sessile epifauna. While terrestrial epiphytes can weigh hundreds of kilograms, aquatic epiphytes usually weigh less than a few grams.

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