> Epiphytes grow harmlessly on other plants, typically trees: most people are familiar with them as orchids, bromeliads and ferns, which are charismatic elements in tropical and sub-tropical forests (Figure 1).
> Equally charismatic, but less well known, are the lichens, mosses and liverworts, which are the dominant epiphytes in temperate and boreal forests (Figure 2).
> These 'cryptogamic' plants and fungi contribute importantly to a diverse and balanced ecosystem; among their ecosystem-service roles:
- They are indicators of environmental health, e.g. air pollution;
- They moderate the forest nutrient cycle, with certain species fixing-nitrogen directly from the atmosphere;
- They provide a microhabitat for bark-dwelling invertebrates, with implications across the food-web.
> Despite their ecological importance, the conservation biology of cryptogamic epiphytes is under-researched:
'The efficacy of [landscape management] would be enhanced by a much better autecological understanding of the individual lichens in relation to the dynamics of their habitat. Sadly, such information is rarely known, and calculated guesswork is the best that can currently be achieved'. 
> This website will deliver outputs of a major RBGE initiative (2010-2013), funded jointly with The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation:
1. A quantitative description of Scotland’s epiphyte communities, analogous to the National Vegetation Classification ;
2. Ecological information for individual epiphyte species, matching information that is already available for British vascular plants .
3. A predictive model to estimate patterns of epiphyte community composition and richness based on environmental input data.
> We expect the first output - a formal classification of epiphyte communities - to be made available on-line by Autumn 2013. For project information please contact either Sally Eaton or Chris Ellis.
 Coppins, B.J. (2003) Lichen conservation in Scotland. Botanical Journal of Scotland, 55: 27-38.
Averis, A., Averis, B., Birks, J., Horsfield, D., Thompson, D. & Yeo, M. (2004) An Illustrated Guide to British Upland Vegetation. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.
Grime, J.P., Hodgson, J.C. & Hunt, R. (2007) Comparative Plant Ecology. Castlepoint Press.