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Phytoregionalisation of the Andean paramo

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  • Gwendolyn Peyre, Univ Los Andes, University of the Andes Colombia, Dept Civil & Environm Engn
  • ,
  • Henrik Balslev
  • Xavier Font, University of Barcelona

Background: The paramo is a high-elevation biogeographical province in the northern Andes, known for its great biodiversity and ecosystem services. Because there have been very few biogeographic studies encompassing the entire province to date, this study aimed at conducting a phytogeographical regionalisation of the paramo. Specifically, (1) clustering analyses were conducted to identify the main phytogeographical units in the three altitudinal belts: sub-paramo, mid-paramo and super-paramo, and examine their diagnostic flora, (2) an ordination complemented the geo-climatic characterization of the obtained units and (3) a hierarchical classification transformation was obtained to evaluate the relationships between units.

Methods: The study area included the entire Andean paramo range in northern Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. The analyses were based on 1,647 phytosociological plots from the VegParamo database. The K-means non-hierarchical clustering technique was used to obtain clusters identifiable as phytogeographical units, and the Ochiai fidelity index was calculated to identify their diagnostic species. A principal component analysis was conducted to obtain the geo-climatic characterization of each unit. Finally, the relationships between clusters were traced using a hierarchical plot-based classification.

Results: Fifteen clusters were obtained, 13 natural and two artificial, of which two represented the sub-paramo, nine the mid-paramo and four the super-paramo. Even though data representativeness was a potential limitation to segregate certain subpa ramo and super-paramo units, the overall bioregionalisation was robust and represented important latitudinal, altitudinal and climatic gradients.

Discussion: This study is the first to bioregionalise the paramo province based on a substantial widely distributed biological dataset, and therefore provides important novel scientific insight on its biogeography. The obtained phytogeographical units can be used to support further research on the paramo at smaller scale and on the humid Neotropical high-elevation ecosystems at broader-scale. Finally, several units were highlighted in our results as particularly worthy of further scientific and conservation focus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4786
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

    Research areas

  • Andes, Bioregionalisation, Clustering, Diagnostic species, Phytogeography, Phytosociology, Principal component analysis, Vascular plants, BIOGEOGRAPHICAL REGIONS, CLIMATE-CHANGE, SPECIES RICHNESS, BETA DIVERSITY, DATA SETS, COMMUNITY, BIODIVERSITY, ALPINE, VEGETATION, REGIONALIZATION

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