Fog interception by non-vascular epiphytes in tropical montane cloud forests: Dependencies on gauge type and meteorological conditions

Juan Camilo Villegas, Conrado Tobón, David D. Breshears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Precipitation is the most fundamental input of water for terrestrial ecosystems. Most precipitation inputs are vertical, via rain, but can be horizontal, via wind-driven rain and snow, or, in some ecosystems such as tropical montane cloud forests (TMCFs), via fog interception. Fog interception can be particularly important in ecosystems where fog is frequently present and there are seasonal periods of lower rainfall. Epiphytes in trees are a major ecological component of TMCFs and are particularly dependent on fog interception during periods of lower rainfall because they lack access to soil water. But assessing fog interception by epiphytes remains problematic because: (i) a variety of field or laboratory methods have been used, yet comparisons of interception by epiphytes versus interception by various types of fog gauge are lacking; (ii) previous studies have not accounted for potential interactions between meteorological factors. We compared fog interception by epiphytes with two kinds of commonly used fog gauges and developed relations between fog interception and meteorological variables by conducting laboratory experiments that manipulated key fog characteristics and from field measurements of fog interception by epiphytes. Fog interception measured on epiphytes was correlated with that measured from fog gauges but was more than an order of magnitude smaller than the actual measurements from fog gauges, highlighting a key measurement issue. Our laboratory measurements spanned a broad range of liquid water content (LWC) values for fog and indicate how fog interception is sensitive to an interaction between wind speed and LWC. Based on our results, considered in concert with those from other studies, we hypothesize that fog interception is constrained when LWC is low or high, and that fog interception increases with wind speed for intermediate values of LWC - a net result of deposition, impaction, and evaporation processes - until interception begins to decrease with further increases in wind speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2484-2492
Number of pages9
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008


  • Colombia
  • Fog chamber
  • Fog gauges
  • Fog interception
  • Non-vascular epiphytes
  • Tropical montane cloud forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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