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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X

Abstract

GINOCCHIO, ROSANNA et al. Importance of water quality on plant abundance and diversity in high-alpine meadows of the Yerba Loca Natural Sanctuary at the Andes of north-central Chile. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2008, vol.81, n.4, pp.469-488. ISSN 0716-078X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-078X2008000400003.

Porphyry Cu-Mo deposits have influenced surface water quality in high-Andes of north-central Chile since the Miocene. Water anomalies may reduce species abundance and diversity in alpine meadows as acidic and metal-rich waters are highly toxic to plants The study assessed the importance of surface water quality on plant abundance and diversity in high-alpine meadows at the Yerba Loca Natural Santuary (YLNS), central Chile (33°15' S, 70°18' W). Hydrochemical and plant prospecting were carried out on Piedra Carvajal, Chorrillos del Plomo and La Lata meadows the growing seasons of 2006 and 2007. Direct gradient analysis was performed through canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) to look for relationships among water chemistry and plant factors. High variability in water chemistry was found inside and among meadows, particularly for pH, sulphate, electric conductivity, hardness, and total dissolved Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb and Fe. Data on species abundance and water chemical factors suggests that pH and total dissolved Cu are very important factor determining changes in plant abundance and diversity in study meadows. For instance, Festuca purpurascens, Colobanthus quitensis, and Arenaria rivularis are abundant in habitals with Cu-rich waters while Festuca magellanica, Patosia clandestina, Plantago barbata, Werneria pygmea, and Erigeron andícola are abundant in habitals with dilute waters.

Keywords : porphyry deposits; phytotoxicity; plant diversity; acid mine drainage; copper toxicity.

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