Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 42(1):19-33. 2010 doi: 10.1657/1938-4246-42.1.

19 Alpine Peatlands of the Andes, Cajamarca, Peru David J. Cooper*,†, Evan C. Wolf*,‡, Christopher Colson§, Walter Vering§, Arturo Granda¶, and Michael Meyer# *Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80305, U.S.A
†Corresponding ‡Present §Tetra

author: david.cooper@colostate.edu

address: Department of Environmental Science, University of California, Davis, California 95616, U.S.A de la Facultad de Ciencias (MOL), Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Apdo. 456, Lima, Peru

Tech Inc., Boise, Idaho 83706, U.S.A Yanacocha S.R.L., Cajamarca, Peru

¶Herbario #Minera

Abstract An ecological analysis of wetlands in the high mountain jalca above 3700 m elevation in the Andes near Cajamarca, Peru, indicated that most wetlands are groundwater-supported peat-accumulating fens. The floristic composition of fen communities was controlled largely by groundwater chemistry, which was highly variable and influenced by watershed bedrock composition. Watersheds with highly mineralized rock discharged water as acidic as pH 3.7, which was high in CaSO 4, while watersheds with limestone, marble, and skarn produced groundwater as basic as pH 8.2 and high in CaHCO3. Of the 125 plots sampled in 36 wetland complexes, >50% of plots had at least 3 m of peat, and 21 plots had peat thicker than 7 m. Most soil horizons analyzed had 18 to 35% organic carbon, indicating high C storage. A total of 102 vascular plants, 69 bryophytes, and 10 lichens were identified. Study plots were classified using TWINSPAN into 20 plant communities, which were grouped into four broad categories by dominant life form: (1) cushion plant communities, (2) sedge- and rush-dominated communities, (3) bryophyte and lichen communities, and (4) tussock grass communities. Direct gradient analysis using canonical correspondence analysis indicated that Axis 1 was largely a water chemistry gradient, while Axis 2 was a complex hydrology and peat thickness gradient. Bryophytes and lichens were more strongly separated in the ordination space than vascular plants and were better indicators of specific environmental characteristics. Accepted: August 2009 References Cited Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 2003. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Botanical Journal Linnaean Society 141:399–436. CrossRef APHA [American Public Health Association] 2005. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. 21st edition. Washington, D.C American Public Health Association. Bosman, A. F., P. C. Van Der Molen, R. Young, and A. M. Cleef. 1993. Ecology of a páramo cushion mire. Journal of Vegetation Science 4:633–640. CrossRef Chimner, R. A. and R. Karberg. 2008. Long-term carbon accumulation in two tropical mountain peatlands, Andes Mountains, Ecuador. Mires and Peat 3:article 4, 10. Chimner, R. A., D. J. Cooper, and W. J. Parton. 2002. Modeling carbon accumulation in Rocky Mountain fens. Wetlands 22:100–110. BioOne, CSA Cleef, A. M. 1981. The vegetation of the páramos of the Colombian Cordillera Oriental. Dissertation Botanica 61:1–320. Cooper, D. J. and R. Andrus. 1994. Patterns of vegetation and water chemistry in peatlands of the west-central Wind River Range, Wyoming, USA. Canadian Journal of Botany 72:1586–1597. CrossRef, CSA Cooper, D. J., R. Andrus, and C. Arp. 2002. Sphagnum balticum in a Southern Rocky Mountains iron fen. Madroño 49:186–188. Davies, R. J. 2002. Tectonic, magmatic, and metallogenic evolution of the Cajamarca mining district, northern Peru. PhD dissertation. James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia. Earle, L. R., B. G. Warner, and R. Aravena. 2003. Rapid development of an unusual peat-accumulating ecosystem in the Chilean Altiplano. Quaternary Research 59:2–11. CrossRef Gignac, L. D., D. Vitt, S. C. Zoltai, and S. E. Bayley. 1991. Bryophyte response surfaces along climatic, chemical, and physical gradients in peatlands of western Canada. Nova Hedwigia 53:27–71.

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