Paramo or puna?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Andean Bears -

Paramo is a South Amer­i­can term re­fer­ring to a high-altitude moor­land habi­tat above the tree line (and below the snow line) in trop­i­cal ar­eas of South and Cen­tral Amer­ica. It gen­er­ally oc­curs be­tween roughly 3,000–5,000m of altitude.

It is char­ac­terised by tus­sock grasses, cush­ion plants, ever­green shrubs and the dis­tinc­tive Espele­tia genus, known as fraile­jones, which form big leafy rosettes atop thick woody stems. Also com­mon are puya, a mem­ber of the bromeliad fam­ily, which, like the fraile­jones, form leafy rosettes, but close to the ground.

Paramo re­ceives a lot of rain­fall, typ­i­cally more than 2,000mm a year. In South Amer­ica, it is mainly found in Venezuela, Colom­bia, Ecuador and north­ern Peru. Fur­ther south (in south­ern Peru and Bo­livia), the habi­tat above the tree line is sim­i­lar, but tends to be drier and is known as puna.

Some wood­land can oc­cur on paramo, with shrubs and trees form­ing what are called dwarf or elfin forests, which of­ten grow to no more than a few me­tres high.

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