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Open AccessArticle

Plant Diversity and Composition Changes along an Altitudinal Gradient in the Isolated Volcano Sumaco in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Herbario ECUAMZ, Universidad Estatal Amazónica, Km 2 ½ vía Puyo Tena, Paso Lateral, 160-150 Puyo, Ecuador
Dpto. de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano Alto s/n, 110-104 Loja, Ecuador
Dpto. de Ingeniería Civil y Ambiental, Universidad de los Andes, Cra. 1E No. 19a-40, 111711 Bogotá, Colombia
IBED, Paleoecology & Landscape ecology, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 HX Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE, Av. General Rumiñahui s/n, P.O.Box, 171-5-231B Sangolquí, Ecuador
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(6), 229;
Received: 29 April 2020 / Revised: 27 May 2020 / Accepted: 29 May 2020 / Published: 8 June 2020
The paramo is a unique and severely threatened ecosystem scattered in the high northern Andes of South America. However, several further, extra-Andean paramos exist, of which a particular case is situated on the active volcano Sumaco, in the northwestern Amazon Basin of Ecuador. We have set an elevational gradient of 600 m (3200–3800 m a.s.l.) and sampled a total of 21 vegetation plots, using the phytosociological method. All vascular plants encountered were typified by their taxonomy, life form and phytogeographic origin. In order to determine if plots may be ensembled into vegetation units and understand what the main environmental factors shaping this pattern are, a non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) analysis was performed. In addition, species turnover was quantified in order to appreciate the quantity and sort of species which are responsible for the similarity or dissimilarity between vegetation units. Therefore, a SIMPER similarity percentage analysis was conducted. We encountered 68 plant species belonging to 54 genera and 31 families, of which three are Ecuadorian endemics. The most frequent life forms were erect herbs, rosette and tussocks, whereas the least were cushions. At genus level, 44% of the Sumaco paramo flora was of tropical origin, followed by temperate (33%) and finally cosmopolitan (22%). The neotropical montane element was the most represented with 15 species, followed by the Austral-Antarctic with ten, wide temperate with another ten and cosmopolitan with seven. Regarding vegetation, four floristically distinct groups were segregated being lower gradient (3250–3500 m a.s.l.) and high altitude (3500–3800 m a.s.l.) View Full-Text
Keywords: altitudinal gradient; endemism; isolated paramo; Sumaco volcano altitudinal gradient; endemism; isolated paramo; Sumaco volcano
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Lozano, P.; Cabrera, O.; Peyre, G.; Cleef, A.; Toulkeridis, T. Plant Diversity and Composition Changes along an Altitudinal Gradient in the Isolated Volcano Sumaco in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Diversity 2020, 12, 229.

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