The Botanical Review

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 88–99 | Cite as

The significance of the Northern Andes for lichens

  • H. J. M. Sipman

Abstract

Evaluation of the lichen flora of the Northern Andes must be based on a restricted number of better-known groups, probably less than 25% of the flora. This is because our knowledge of the taxonomy and distribution of lichens in the Tropics is still very incomplete.

In the Andes, the groups with foliose and fruticose growth forms are particularly well represented; the crustose group seems less important. This is in contrast with the surrounding lowlands, where crustose is the dominant growth form. At higher taxonomic levels there is a resemblance in taxonomic composition with the cooler zones of the world, which disappears at the generic or sectional levels. A conspicuous morphological feature is the frequency of foliose lichens with linear, rhizinate, or ciliate lobes, probably an adaptation to very humid conditions.

More than half of the species have a wide distribution throughout the Tropics or at least in the Neotropics. Among the more restricted taxa is a humid montane element. At the highest elevations a temperate element is apparent, usually with bicentric distribution in both hemispheres. Perhaps 10% of the species are known only from the region; local endemism is probably very scarce. A few taxa appear to be restricted to Ecuador and southern Colombia or Venezuela; so far, only a single species is known with certainty to be restricted to the humid paramos of Colombia. There are distinct affinities with the lichen flora of southeastern Brazil and the Caribbean-Central American area but not with the adjacent Guayana Highland.

Keywords

Nash Botanical Review Usnic Acid Cool Zone Atranorin 

Resumen

La evaluación de la flora liquénica de los Andes del Norte debe efectuarse con un número restringido de grupos mejor estudiados, que corresponden a menos del 25% de la flora, debido a que la taxonomía y la distribución de los líquenes en el trópico son aún poco conocidas.

En los Andes, los grupos con formas de crecimiento foliáceas y fruticosas están especialmente bien representados; los grupos de líquenes crustáceos parecen ser menos importantes. Esto en contraste con las tierras bajas aledañas, donde los líquenes crustáceos son la forma de vida dominante. A niveles taxonómicos superiores hay una similitud con las zonas templadas del mundo, que desaparece a nivel genérico y de sección. Un fenómeno morfológico llamativo es la frecuencia de líquenes foliáceos con löbulos lineares provistos de rizinas o cilios, como probable adaptación a condiciones muy húmedas.

Más de la mitad de las especies tienen una amplia distribución en los trópicos, o por lo menos en el neotrópico. Entre los taxones de distribución más restringida hay un elemento montano húmedo. En las zonas más altas aparece un elemento templado compuesto de especies normalmente con distribución bicéntrica en ambos hemisferios. Quizás un 10% de las especies se conocen sólo de la región; los endemismos locales son muy raros. Unos pocos taxones están restringidos a Ecuador y al sur de Colombia o Venezuela; hasta el momento se puede asegurar que sólo una especie está limitada a los páramos húmedos de Colombia. Hay afinidades con la flora liquénica del sudeste de Brasil y las zonas de Centroamérica y del Caribe, pero no con las zonas altas de las Guayanas.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. J. M. Sipman
    • 1
  1. 1.Botanischer Garten & Botanisches MuseumFreie UniversitätBerlinGermany

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