Phytoplankton in high mountain wetlands of Argentina
Maidana, Nora I.; Seeligmann, Claudia T.
In northwestern Argentina, from the border with Bolivia up to the north of Catamarca province, there are two overlapped landscapes: the Puna plateau with an altitude over 3500 m a. s. l., and the High Andes, known by their steep slopes. In these regions, it is possible to differentiate diverse types of wetlands of high biological value. They represent patches in desert regions. They also exhibit a rare biodiversity and endemic species while serving as habitat for many birds. This article outlines the results of studies made both on phytoplankton and on the physical and chemical characteristics which typify wetlands in general, showing that in these shallow lakes, rather than a true plankton development, there is a frequent proliferation of forms adapted to the lack of moisture. Diatoms were recognized as the most important group, both in abundance and species richness, followed by cyanobacteria and chlorophytes. Euglenoids, represented only by two species, were observed in very few sites. Due to the region’s limited available information, the results from these surveys contribute to increase significantly the number of new records for that region and for Argentina, as well as the proposals of new species to science.