The Board of Directors of the South Florida Orchid Society has recently helped fund Damien Catchpole’s research project as described below: seventy percent of wild orchid species are epiphytic, residing on tree branches and trunks. The mountain cloud forests of the Tropical Andes contain the highest diversity of epiphytic orchids, where they often contribute the largest proportion of the rich plant diversity. The humid climate of Tropical Andean forests that provide optimal epiphytic orchid habitat is maintained by frequent cloudiness that penetrates the forest itself, providing water through misting. Commonly considered only a species rich ornamental forest element, epiphytic orchid stems and roots also play the vital ecological role of anchoring entire epiphytic communities to branches. These sponge like communities strip water and nutrients directly from passing mist that otherwise pass untapped. However, global climate change predictions specifically foresee a significant reduction of cloudiness in Andean forests this century that seriously threatens the survival of many epiphytic orchid species and the integrity of their epiphytic communities. Whilst the threat of climate change to epiphytic orchid populations is widely hypothesized, there is scant scientific evidence in order to influence policy and management decisions.

This project from the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) will quantify the threat to epiphytic orchid populations from climate change in the Peruvian Andes. Through detailed altitudinal investigations of orchid ecology, forest microclimates and meteorology, predictive models will be generated using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to test species distributions and habitat availability under various climate scenarios. The pilot study tested most of the methodology and revealed unprecedented high epiphytic orchid diversity at the site, highlighting its suitability for the extrapolation of information for the entire Tropical Andes.

Research Grants

To further the educational goals of the South Florida Orchid Society, grants are awarded for projects in experimental, fundamental and applied research on orchids.

The purpose of these grants is to promote the study of orchids in all aspects, including classification, evolution, conservation, propagation and culture.

Proposals for grants should be submitted by qualified personnel associated with accredited institutions of higher learning or appropriate research institutes, and qualified students attending accredited institutions or working at research institutes.

Proposals must be for projects that can be accomplished within a specified period of time.

Submitted proposals are reviewed by the South Florida Orchid Society Research Committee and presented to the Board of Directors for approval monthly. At the board meeting, members will discuss the proposals and decide which are worthy of funding. After the meeting, candidates are notified if their proposal has been funded.

The South Florida Orchid Society has two grants available. The first grant is for qualified personnel associated with accredited institutions (this includes institution personnel and students attending these institutions) world wide. One project of $2,000 will be funded per year, with $1000 paid upon selection and the remaining $1000 paid when the research is published in a recognized English language orchid publication.  Upon completion of the project, recipients should prepare a report to  the  members of the SFOS Research Committee.

The second fund is for research projects by students attending research institutions in the state of Florida and is limited to one grant of up to $500 per year.


The proposal should present the: (1) objectives and scientific or educational significance of the proposed work; (2) methods to be employed, (3) qualifications of the investigator; (4) amount of funding required. It should present the merits of the proposed project clearly and should be prepared with the care and thoroughness of a paper submitted for publication. Sufficient information should be provided so that reviewers will be able to evaluate the proposal.

The proposal should include:

1. Title Page
The title should briefly say what you are planning to do. Your name and address should follow.

2. Project Summary
The proposal must contain a summary of the proposed activity. The summary should be written in the third person and include a statement of objectives, methods to be employed and the potential impact of the project on advancing orchid knowledge. It should be informative and, insofar as possible, understandable to a scientifically or technically literate lay reader.

3. Project Description
The main body of the proposal should be a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and should include: objectives for the period of the proposed work and expected significance. The statement should outline the general plan of work, including the broad design of activities to be undertaken, an adequate description of experimental methods and procedures and, if appropriate, plans for preservation, documentation, and sharing of data, samples, physical collections and other related research products.

4. Funding
The proposal should include the total amount of funds required, and a detailed budget with a plan for expenditure.

5. References Cited
Reference information should be included. Each reference must include the title, names of all authors in the same sequence in which they appear in the proposal.

6. Biographical Sketches
Biographical sketches should include: Vitae, listing professional and academic essentials and mailing address; list of significant publications, invited lectures, etc.

Julie Rosenberg
Chair, Research Committee