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Phytogeographical data and modern pollen rain of the puna belt in southern Peru (Nevado Coropuna, Western Cordillera)

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Abstract Aim 

To improve knowledge of the distribution of species and modern pollen dispersal in the puna vegetation belt (central Andes) for palaeoenvironmental analysis and reconstructions. Location 

Puna belt, Nevado Coropuna, Western Cordillera, Peru. Methods 

The vegetation facies and belts of the area were mapped by remote sensing using a March 1998 SPOT4 image. This was complemented by the interpretation of aerial photographs, by field sampling, and by the identification of plants. Data from 1940 to 1994 from the Peruvian meteorological station network were modelled to characterize the relationship between climate and vegetation. Twenty-four soil-surface samples were collected in the various vegetation facies identified on the map, and standard palynological techniques were applied to analyse these samples. A principal components analysis was performed on the pollen data set. Results 

The map shows three bioclimatic belts and seven facies in the puna sensu lato, and identifies the main plants that are characteristic of each bioclimatic area. The pollen results fit the vegetation facies and belts, including the plant species of the distinct facies that are well represented in the pollen assemblages. The mesotropical belt is characterized by the predominance of Asteraceae-type Ambrosia; the supratropical belt shows significant frequencies of Asteraceae-type Senecio; the orotropical belt is characterized by high frequencies of Apiaceae and includes Polylepis woodland and peat bogs; and the cryorotropical belt shows significant frequencies of Asteraceae-type Senecio and Apiaceae. Main conclusions 

The pollen grains of the plants that grow on the puna sensu lato are generally entomophilous and are therefore not transported far from their plant source. The distinct bioclimatic facies and belts identified by the cartography can thus be well distinguished by their pollen production and deposition. We were therefore able to characterize the relationship between pollen, vegetation and climate that can be used for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. An altitudinal pollen gradient on the western slopes of the central Andes was revealed by the pollen study, with the succession of Asteraceae-type Ambrosia (1800–2200 m), Malvaceae (2700–3300 m), Asteraceae-type Senecio (3500–4100 m) and Apiaceae (above 4600 m).

Keywords: Central Andes; Peru; modern pollen rain; palynology; phytogeography; puna belt

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Botany, San Pablo-CEU University, PO Box 67, E-28660 Boadilla del Monte, Madrid, Spain 2: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UR Great Ice, IRD/MSE, BP 64 501, 34394 Montpellier, France 3: Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, UMR 6524-CNRS, OPGC et IRD, Université Blaise Pascal, 5 rue Kessler, 63038 Clermont-Ferrand, France

Publication date: 2007-10-01

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