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New insights into the functional ecology of paramo plants: what growth forms can tell us about plant functional types
  • Marisol Cruz,
  • Eloisa Lasso De Paulis
Marisol Cruz
Universidad de los Andes

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Eloisa Lasso De Paulis
Universidad de los Andes Facultad de Ciencias
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Paramos are a unique type of tropical alpine ecosystem. To understand how biodiversity, ecosystem services and community resilience in the paramo will be affected by ongoing environmental change we need to start identifying groups of species with shared characteristics (i.e. functional types or PFTs). This task is particularly challenging as paramos host the highest plant diversity of alpine ecosystems. We measured 22 traits on 42 species belonging to different growth forms in the Colombian Andes. Hierarchical Clustering on Principal Components performed in a Factor analysis of mixed data was used to identify species with similar functional traits and the number of PFTs present. We identified three PFTs; one composed of forbs and shrubs with tender leaves, one composed of only rosettes, and a third group composed by shrubs with tough leaves. If PFTs represent a group of plants that play similar roles in the ecosystem, and have similar responses to perturbation, our results imply that paramos might have limited physiological response and may be highly vulnerable to environmental changes. On the other hand, the presence of multiple species sharing functional traits could provide some resilience, if one species disappears, others may fill the same role and maintain the functionality of the paramo.