Peatlands represent one of the most important water resources in the Puna grassland ecoregion, but this fact is not yet widely recognised. Puna peatlands also provide key environmental services such as increasing the regional biodiversity of the Andean Altiplano plateau and contributing to the wellbeing of high-altitude human populations by providing grazing land and cooking fuel. We conducted a study in the Peruvian Puna ecoregion to describe the current condition of peatlands in terms of their vegetation, physical and chemical characteristics and disturbance status. Our results suggest that peat thickness, organic matter and degree of humification are good indicators for identifying peatlands in the Puna ecoregion. In general, the peatland sites that we sampled were dominated by mixtures of cushion and acaulescent rosette forming plants such as Distichia muscoides Nees & Meyen and Plantago tubulosa Decne. These Distichia and Plantago peatland sites were characterised by a mean surface water pH of 6.3, corrected electrical conductivity K corr. in the range 300–1814 μS cm-1 and presented the following mean exchangeable cation values: Ca<sup>2+</sup> 48 mg L<sup>-1</sup>, Mg<sup>2+</sup> 9.6 mg L<sup>-1</sup>, Na<sup>+</sup> 8.2 mg L<sup>-1</sup> and K<sup>+</sup> 2.1 mg L<sup>-1</sup>. The most common causes of disturbance we encountered were grazing, peat extraction and roads. Disturbance was most severe in mining sites, where peatlands are especially vulnerable because they are not under legal protection.
|Original language||American English|
|Journal||Mires and Peat|
|State||Published - 1 Jan 2015|
- Cushion vegetation
- High Tropical Andes
- Water chemistry