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James L. Luteyn and Mauricio R. Gavilanes A.

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      The "Sierra" or montane part of Ecuador has two major parallel ranges of the Andes mountains, the Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Oriental, between which is a relatively high interandean plateau averaging 2650 m. Several transverse mountain chains known as "nudos" connect the cordilleras and divide the intermountain plateau into roughly 10 basins or "hoyas. " The Nudo del Azuay, at 4500 m, divides the country into two subregions, a northern area of modern volcanism and an area of more ancient volcanism to the south. The mountains in the north are higher, wetter, and their vegetation (including the páramos) generally resembles that of Colombia, whereas the mountains of the south are lower, drier, and their vegetation resembles that of northern Peru. The Sierra has at least 22 peaks averaging over 4200 m in elevation and 30 peaks of volcanic origin (six still active), giving rise to the designation "avenue of the volcanos" for this region. Estimates of the area covered by páramo in Ecuador vary considerably, depending on how páramo is defined, and range from 4470 km2 (Cañadas Cruz, 1983), to 19,610 km2 (Bonifaz, 1981; using subpáramo between 3500 m and 4000 m =13,310 km2 and páramo above 4000 m =6,300 km2), to 20,000 km2 (Encalada, 1986), to a high of 25,000-28,000 km2 (Acosta-Solís, 1984), out of a total land area of ca. 280,000 km2. [The figure of "about 40,000 km2" given in Balslev and de Vries (1991) was a mistake and should read "about 20,000 km2" (Balslev, pers. comm.).]
      Ecuadorean national parks that include páramo are: Cajas, Cotopaxi, Llanganatis, Podocarpus, and Sangay. Ecological reserves that include páramo are: Cotacachi-Cayapas, Cayambe-Coca, El Angel, and Antisana (cf. Mena V., 1995).
      The Ecuadorean gazetteer was difficult to assemble, because none of the maps nor indices consulted used the word "páramo" (in some cases the word "loma" seemed to be the equivalent, but not always). Therefore, the gazetter was constructed in two ways: 1) from herbarium labels, local knowledge, and literature references that specifically used the word páramo, and 2) by the inclusion of all localities found in geographical dictionaries, indices, etc. that were over 3500 m elevation and used the word "cerro," "laguna," "nevado," or "vulcán." That opened the possibility that some localities might not actually be páramo, but that was the decision made for the purposes of this book.
      For additional discussion about Ecuadorean páramo vegetation, see Acosta-Solís (1984), Balslev and de Vries (1982, 1991), Black (1982), Cerón M. (1985, 1992), Diels (1937), Jørgensen and Ulloa U. (1994), Keating (1995), León Yánez (1993), Løjtnant and Molau (1982), Mena V. (1984), Muñoz et al. (1985), and Ramsay (1992).

Bibliographic Sources for Locations of Páramos


Acosta-Solís, M. 1980. Plantas indígenas para forrajicultura tropandina. Revista Acad. Colomb. Ci. Exact. 15(56): 57-97.

__.  1984. Los páramos andinos del Ecuador. Publicaciones Científicas MAS. Quito. Andrade Marín, L. 1952. La desconocida región de Oyacachi: Rectificaciones geográficas, hallazgos etnológicos y de un precioso manuscrito inédito, en poder oculto de los indios. Anales Organo Univ. Central (Ecuador) 79(331-332): 5-63.

American Geographical Society of New York. 1938. Quito. Map SA-17. 1:1,000,000. Provisional edition. A. Hoen and Company, Baltimore.

__.  1938. Piura. Map SB-17. 1:1,000,000. Provisional edition. A. Hoen and Company, Baltimore.

__.  1949. Río Mira-Islas Galápagos. Map NA-18, Southamerica. 1:1,000,000. Provisional edition. A. Hoen and Company Publishers, Baltimore.

Diels, L. 1937. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Vegetation und Flora von Ecuador. Biblioth. Bot. 116: 1-190. [Spanish translation as: Contribuciones al conocimiento de la vegetación y flora del Ecuador. Universidad Central, Quito. August, 1938.]

Instituto Geográfico Militar. 1950. Mapa geográfico del Ecuador. 1:1,000,000. Quito.

__.  1978. Indice toponímico de La República del Ecuador. Tomo I-VII. Quito.

Mena V., P. 1995. Las áreas protegidas con bosque montano en el Ecuador. Pp. 627-635. In: S. P. Churchill, H. Balslev, E. Forero & J. L. Luteyn (eds.), Biodiversity and conservation of neotropical montane forests. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx.

Paynter, A. R., Jr. & M. A. Traylor. 1977. Ornithological gazetteer of Ecuador. Bird Department, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sampedro F., Ing. Capt. 1950. Mapa del Ecuador. 1:1,OOO,OOO. United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.

__. 1976. Atlas geográfico del Ecuador. Artes Gráficas, Quito.

United States Board on Geographical Names. 1987. Gazetter of Ecuador. Second edition. The Defense Mapping Agency, Washington, D.C.

Costa Rica & Panama Colombia Venezuela Ecuador Peru

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