Ecological Consequences of Heteroblasty in the Florida Bromeliad Catopsis berteroniana (Schult. f.) Mez (Bromeliaceae)

EPA Grant Number: U916216
Title: Ecological Consequences of Heteroblasty in the Florida Bromeliad Catopsis berteroniana (Schult. f.) Mez (Bromeliaceae)
Investigators: Gonsiska, Philip A.
Institution: Florida International University
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 2003 through January 1, 2006
Project Amount: $120,692
RFA: Minority Academic Institutions (MAI) Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2003) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Natural and Life Sciences , Biology/Life Sciences


The objectives of this research project are to: (1) investigate the relative rates of growth and mortality of atmospheric seedlings and small tank juveniles in the field and compare these results to the overall population structure; (2) examine the effects of water, light, and nutrient availability on the growth and development of this species; (3) provide information that can be used to define suitable microclimates for future reintroduction projects and to gauge the potential effects of Everglades restoration efforts on this species; and (4) contribute to the scientific understanding of heteroblasty and its results in bromeliads.


Catopsis berteroniana is an epiphytic bromeliad occurring from southern Florida, through the Caribbean, to Brazil. In Florida, this plant occurs in buttonwood, mangrove, and other swamp communities. Most epiphytic Bromeliaceae are categorized as either atmospheric or tank bromeliads. Atmospheric bromeliads are succulent, are usually covered in absorbent peltate trichomes, lack water-impounding leaf bases, and grow in high light areas. Tank bromeliads possess thin, strap-shaped leaves with imbricate, water-impounding bases, and are shade-adapted. C. berteroniana exhibits atmospheric morphology as seedlings and tank morphology as juveniles and adults. This type of developmental pattern, in which leaf morphology or other characteristics change during ontogeny, is heteroblasty. The transition from juvenile to adult morphology indicates a change in method of nutrient and water procurement, which changes the way the plant reacts to its environment. My research will address the effects of heteroblastic development on the distribution of C. berteroniana and the effects of environmental variation on both growth forms.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, Florida, FL, Everglades, heteroblasty, bromeliad, Catopsis berteroniana, Everglades restoration efforts, growth rates, mortality rates.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003
  • 2004
  • Final