Vegetation of andean wetlands (bofedales) in huascarán national park, Peru

Molly H. Polk, K. R. Young, A. Cano, B. León

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Hybrid terrestrial-aquatic ecosystems in the Andes, commonly known as bofedales, consist of both peatlands and wet meadows and line valley floors at elevations > 3800 m. Compared with similar ecosystems at lower altitudes and higher latitudes, the ecosystem processes and spatial patterns of bofedales are only just beginning to be understood. The research presented here provides the first exploratory and descriptive analysis of the biodiversity and place-to-place variation of vegetation in bofedales in three valleys inside Peru’s Huascarán National Park. Through vegetation surveys, we recorded 112 plant species in 29 families. Over a short geographical distance, a valley-to-valley comparison showed high dissimilarity in terms of species composition. Based on dominant life form and species composition, vegetation in bofedales can be grouped into five assemblages. Our preliminary analysis suggests that several abiotic factors could influence the floristic composition of bofedales: elevation, bulk density, percent organic matter, and cation exchange capacity. The findings of high valley-to-valley variation in species, soil and elevation influences may be useful to land managers of high mountain landscapes that are undergoing transformation related to glacier recession. While our findings advance research on tropical Andean bofedales, they also highlight the need for additional comprehensive investigations to fill gaps in knowledge about the tropical mountains of Latin America.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalMires and Peat
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the reviewers whose valuable suggestions improved the publication. Data were collected under SERNANP Permit No PNH-008-2012. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under the Coupled Human and Natural Systems Program (“Hydrologic Transformation and Human Resilience to Climate Change in the Peruvian Andes” Award 1010381 and “Andes, Bofedales and Cattle: The Impacts of Changing Hydrology and Glacial Retreat on Community Livelihoods in Peru's Cordillera Blanca” Award 1617429); the National Science Foundation under the Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (“Glacier Recession and Implications for High-Elevation Peatlands” Award Number 1333141); The University of Texas Department of Geography and Environment and the Graduate School; and the Austin Branch of the American Association of University Women.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 International Mire Conservation Group and International Peatland Society.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Mountain peatlands
  • Plant diversity
  • Puna
  • Tropical andes


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