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.
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© 2019 International Mire Conservation Group and International Peatland Society.
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