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Acta Biológica Colombiana

versão impressa ISSN 0120-548X


LLAMBI, Luis Daniel. Vegetation Structure, Diversity and Dynamics in the Forest-Paramo Ecotone: A Review of the Evidence in the Cordillera de Mérida. Acta biol.Colomb. [online]. 2015, vol.20, n.3, pp.5-19. ISSN 0120-548X.

In the tropical Andes, the mountain treeline corresponds to a complex transition zone between páramo forests and páramos. In the lower limit of this ecotone there is a more or less gradual transition between mountain cloud forests and páramo forests. Land planning in these ecosystems has become a highly topical subject given the growing threat for conservation generated by agricultural and mining activities. In this paper we review the research carried out in the Cordillera de Mérida (Venezuela) on the changes in vegetation structure, diversity and response to disturbance along the forest-páramo transition zone. The results of these studies document the high species and life form richness which characterize the ecotone vegetation, as well as a high rate of species turnover (beta diversity) along the elevation gradient. Studies on elevation changes in vegetation successional dynamics in plots disturbed by agriculture at different altitudes along the transition zone indicate that forest woody species have a lower capacity to colonize disturbed areas than dominant páramo species, a process that results in forests patches with a paramo physiognomy. On the basis of the available evidence, the structural elements that could be used for delimiting the different ecosystems present along transition zone are discussed, emphasizing the need to design conservation and restoration strategies which interpret the forest-páramo ecotone as a dynamic and integrated system.

Palavras-chave : agricultural disturbance; limate change; elevation gradient; life forms; secondary succession; tropical Andes.

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