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Species Diversity of Araceae in Colombia: A Preliminary Survey

Thomas B. Croat
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Vol. 79, No. 1 (1992), pp. 17-28
DOI: 10.2307/2399806
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2399806
Page Count: 12
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Species Diversity of Araceae in Colombia: A Preliminary Survey
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Abstract

Species diversity of neotropical Araceae is greatest in northwestern South America along the Pacific slopes of the Andes in Colombia and adjacent regions of northern Ecuador. This region is the wettest part of the continent and has some of the largest tracts of relatively undisturbed forests. Colombia is the most species-rich area for Araceae. The family occurs virtually throughout the country, but is much more diverse from sea level to about 1,500 m in the Cordillera Occidental. Of the 15 study sites in Colombia, containing eight different Holdridge Life Zones, the most species-rich was the wettest life zone (premontane rainforest transition to tropical wet forest) at near sea level. Species diversity diminishes substantially at higher elevations even in very wet forests, but is moderately rich to at least 1,100 m. The Cordillera Central of Colombia is substantially drier, particularly during a certain part of the year, and has fewer, more widespread species. It is also the area most heavily disturbed. The Cordillera Oriental is the most poorly collected, but appears to be much less diverse in Araceae than the Cordillera Occidental. The one site studied on the eastern side of the Cordillera Oriental showed the presence of an Amazonian element in the flora. This, coupled with its complement of endemic species at higher and middle elevations, may be an indication that the eastern range will prove to be more species-rich than the central range of the Andes in Colombia.

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