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Caldasia

Print version ISSN 0366-5232

Abstract

GALAN DE MERA, ANTONIO et al. Distribution patterns of cactus communities in the occidental slopes of the Peruvian Andes. Caldasia [online]. 2012, vol.34, n.2, pp.257-275. ISSN 0366-5232.

Using climatic values of precipitation and potential evapotranspiration, as well as climate indices of thermicity and aridity, in this work we try to establish a relationship between cactus communities and their distribution in the western slopes of the Peruvian Andes. Using the Sørensen index on a matrix with the floristic composition of plant communities, we obtained a dendrogram that explains their grouping according to biogeographic provinces and bioclimatic belts. Using a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) on selected localities, we can infer how they are grouped according to the altitudinal gradient and climatic values and indices. Cactus populations located north of the 8° parallel south are the most influenced by the humidity provided by El Niño stream; those populations south of the 8° parallel south, on the western slopes of the Andes, depend on the low summer humidity (HE), although it can also be evident the winter humidity (HI) due to rainfalls of isolated depressions that emerge from sub-Antarctic storms between July and August. However, the crop terraces of ancestral cultures reflect a more humid ancient climate. In the coast and basal areas of the Andes, next to the abiotic desert, the aridity is very high, although communities with Neoraimondia arequipensis are still present. Communities located north of the 8° parallel south belong to the Pacific biogeographic province, those of the central Peru belong to the Ancash-La Paz province, those of the Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna departments to the Oruro-Arequipa province, and finally those communities of the Pacific Desert belong to the Lima-Arica province.

Keywords : Cactaceae; biogeography; bioclimatology; El Niño; Humboldt stream; Andes,Peru.

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