Phytogeographical relations of the Andean dry valleys of Bolivia
The objective of this study is to examine the phytogeographical affinities of the Andean dry valleys of Bolivia in order to contribute to a better understanding of the Andean dry flora's distribution, origin and diversity. Particular emphasis is given to the analysis of the floristic connections of this flora with more austral parts of South America. Location
The dry valleys of Bolivia are located in the Andes of the southern half of the country, at elevations between 1300 and 3200 m. Methods
An extensive floristic list compiled by the author to evaluate plant diversity in these Andean regions was used as the base for this study. To accomplish this, all recorded genera and species were assigned, respectively, to 11 and 12 phytogeographical elements established previously by the author. Two phytogeographical spectra were thus obtained and analysed. Results
At the genus level, the Andean dry valleys of Bolivia are clearly dominated by genera that have widespread distributions (cosmoplitan and subtropical genera). Many of these reached the Andes from the lowland region of the Chaco. At species level, Andean elements constitute more than 60% of the species total, most of which are restricted to the central-southern Andes. This suggests that Chaco-related and Andean genera had considerable levels of speciation in these valleys. Many genera and more than half the species have their northernmost distribution in the dry valleys of Bolivia, thereby underlining strong relationships with central-southern South America (mainly Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil). The data supports the belief of the existence, in central-southern Peru, of a floristic disjunction in dry to arid environments that separates a tropical dry flora north of this limit from a dry subtropical/warm temperate flora south of it. Main conclusions
The Andean dry valleys of Bolivia are diverse plant communities with high levels of endemism (c. 18% of the species). The species of this region are more related to those present in central-southern South America than to the flora of northern South America that ranges southwards to Peru. Many of the species have restricted distributions in the dry Andes of Bolivia and Argentina, and many genera of these dry valleys have their northernmost distribution in Bolivia/southern Peru, too. The data point to high levels of speciation also in the central Andes.