Fog interception by Ball moss (Tillandsia recurvata)
- Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro 76010, México
Abstract. Interception losses are a major influence in the water yield of vegetated areas. For most storms, rain interception results in less water reaching the ground. However, fog interception can increase the overall water storage capacity of the vegetation and once the storage is exceeded, fog drip is a common hydrological input. Fog interception is disregarded in water budgets of semiarid regions, but for some plant communities, it could be a mechanism offsetting evaporation losses. Tillandsia recurvata is a cosmopolitan epiphyte adapted to arid habitats where fog may be an important water source. Therefore, the interception storage capacity by T. recurvata was measured in controlled conditions and applying simulated rain or fog. Juvenile, vegetative specimens were used to determine the potential upperbound storage capacities. The storage capacity was proportional to dry weight mass. Interception storage capacity (Cmin) was 0.19 and 0.56 mm for rainfall and fog respectively. The coefficients obtained in the laboratory were used together with biomass measurements for T. recurvata in a xeric scrub to calculate the depth of water intercepted by rain. T. recurvata contributed 20 % to the rain interception capacity of their shrub hosts: Acacia farnesiana and Prosopis laevigata and; also potentially intercepted 4.8 % of the annual rainfall. Nocturnal stomatic opening in T. recurvata is not only relevant for CO2 but for water vapor, as suggested by the higher weight change of specimens wetted with fog for 1 h at dark in comparison to those wetted during daylight (543 ± 77 vs. 325 ± 56 mg, p = 0.048). The storage capacity of T. recurvata leaf surfaces could increase the amount of water available for evaporation, but as this species colonise montane forests, the effect could be negative on water recharge, because potential storage capacity is very high, in the laboratory experiments it took up to 12 h at a rate of 0.26 l h−1 to reach saturation conditions when fog was applied.