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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


MARQUEZ, EDJULY J.; FARINAS, MARIO R.; BRICENO, BENITO  and  RADA, FERMÍN J.. Distribution of grasses along an altitudinal gradient in a Venezuelan paramo. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2004, vol.77, n.4, pp.649-660. ISSN 0716-078X.

In Venezuelan paramos grasses, after Asteraceae, are the second family in numerical importance. We studied their distribution in an altitudinal gradient located in Venezuela, Sierra de La Culata, between 2,500 and 4,200 m of altitude. Twenty one 32 m parallel line transects every 50 m were placed along the gradient, perpendicular to the main slope. Each line was divided into contiguous 50 x 50 cm sampling units. Grass species occurrence inside each sample unit was considered to determine their frequency in each line or altitude. The peak and altitudinal amplitude was determined through the weighted averaging method. A total of 47 grass species were found along the gradient. Agrostis was the best-represented genus in the gradient. Considering the distribution ranges, we assume that there are different biotic and abiotic processes determining the distribution patterns. The species occurring at the highest altitudes were temperate elements, while those in the lowest areas were tropical and subtropical elements. Seven species in the gradient are endemic to the Venezuelan paramos. Grass distribution patterns in the paramo may be related to phytogeographical origin. In order to better understand the plant altitudinal distribution pattern is necessary to consider the plant responses to low temperatures, high incoming radiation, water stress and slope aspect

Keywords : altitudinal patterns; phytogeography; Poaceae; South American Andes; tropical high mountain.

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