Types of Hosts

On land the major hosts for epiphytes are woody vascular plants: the trees and shrubs, with animals (e.g., sloths) a very minor habitat. In freshwaters the main living hosts for both epiflora and epifauna are vascular plants, with bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) and macroalgae less important. In the oceans, the hosts are seaweeds (macroalgae), and sea-grasses, mangroves, and saltmarshes (all vascular plants), the latter two found only along sheltered coastal and estuarine margins. Marine epiflora also occur on many aquatic animals, both sessile (e.g., sponges, corals) and mobile (e.g., gastropods, turtles). In addition to macrophytes, aquatic epifauna inhabit numerous sessile animals (sponges, bivalves, tunicates, corals, gorgonians, hydroids, bryozoans), and some mobile animals. As noted in the introduction, animals living on the surfaces of marine and estuarine soft sediments (mud, sand, and gravel) and hard bottoms (rocks, wood, and artificial structures such as jetties and shipwrecks) are often termed epifauna, and those inhabiting similar freshwater habitats are also included here for completeness.

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