Páramo: Andean Moorland (South America)

Páramo: Andean Moorland (South America)

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 17:03
Posted in:

Páramo is a neotropical high mountain biome. Also referred to as Andean Moorland, this grassland ecosystem is found mainly in the northwest corner of South America: in the upper Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

Páramo: Andean Moorland

Páramo is a neotropical high mountain biome with vegetation composed of giant rosette plants, coriaceous shrubs, cushion plants and tussock grasses. It is found above the timberline but below the permanent snowline.

Also referred to as Andean Moorland, this grassland ecosystem is discontinuously distributed between 11°N and 8°S latitudes. Scattered throughout the Neotropics, this ecosystem is found mainly in the northwest corner of South America: in the upper Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

In southern Central America, the Costa Rican páramo (also known as the Talamanca páramo) is a natural region of montane grassland and shrubland of Costa Rica and western Panama.

The majority of Andean Moorland ecosystems occur in the Colombian Andes. The Sumapaz Páramo, south of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the Eastern Ranges (Cordillera Oriental) of the Colombian Andes, is the largest on Earth.

The landscape is often irregular and uneven due to the influence of glaciation, often featuring many small glacial lakes and tributaries. It is the source of many of the large rivers of northern South America:

The Northern Andean Moorland global ecoregion includes the following terrestrial ecoregions:

  • Cordillera Central páramo (Ecuador, Peru)

  • Santa Marta páramo (Colombia)

  • Cordillera de Merida páramo (Venezuela)

  • Northern Andean páramo (Colombia, Ecuador)

Biodiversity

The Andean Moorland ecosystem contains the richest high-mountain flora in the world and is high in endemism. The grasslands contain many rare or endangered species, some of them restricted to just one mountain or valley.

The ecosystem supports both the endangered spectacled bear and Andean mountain tapir. Other mammals include the Andean fox, mountain coati, long-tailed weasel, guinea pig, tapir, the woodland Oldfield mouse, Apolinar’s wren, the black-breasted puffleg and the Bogotá rail.

It also provides shelter and habitat to several reptiles and amphibians, including the Colombian lightbulb lizard, poison dart frogs, rocket frogs and the black water frog.