The páramo vegetation of Ramal de Guaramacal, Trujillo State, Venezuela. 2. Azonal vegetation
Cuello A., Nidia L.; Cleef, Antoine M.
The azonal páramo vegetation present at the top of Ramal de Guaramacal in the Venezuelan Andes was studied by means of observations, plant collections and surveys consisting of a total of 71 small plots of between 0.25 to 6 m2. Azonal vegetation is represented in the study area by habitats experiencing water stress (peat bogs and aquatic vegetation). The azonal vegetation present in two peat bogs areas of Páramo El Pumar (Laguna El Pumar y Laguna Seca), and in a small valley where water collects in Páramo de Guaramacal, near the ‘Las Antenas’ area between ~2900 and ~3000 m were analyzed. A total of 53 morphospecies, belonging to 30 species of vascular plants, 20 species of cryptogams and 3 undetermined species of algae have been documented for the azonal vegetation. The interpretation of a TWINSPAN clustering, based on affinities of floristic composition and species cover, allowed the recognition of six azonal vegetation communities grouped into three alliances and one order. The new alliance Sphagno recurvi–Paepalanthion pilosi groups the new bunchgrass páramo association Paepalantho pilosi–Agrostietum basalis and the both new Sphagnum bog associations: Sphagno recurvi–Caricetum bonplandii and Sphagno sparsi–Caricetum bonplandii. The new alliance Carici bonplandii–Chusqueion angustifolia contains a bamboo páramo (‘chuscal’) association Carici bonplandii–Chusqueetum angustifoliae growing close to the lake shores, in periodically flooded areas, and characterized almost exclusively by Chusquea angustifolia. The alliance Districho submersi–Isoëtion Cleef 1981 is represented by the submerged aquatic community of Sphagnum cuspidatum and the Isoëtetum karstenii Cleef 1981.