We studied the differences between areas undisturbed and disturbed by Ctenomys in the structure, diversity, and composition of a Puna desert plant community. We also studied differences in nutrient distribution in the soil produced by the activity of tuco-tucos. Within the plant community, plant and soil samples were taken from different sites, and at each site, both disturbed and undisturbed areas were sampled. We hypothesized that the activity of this rodent affected plant community structure, specific composition, diversity, and nutrient distribution (N, K, and P). Results at the plant population and community level and for soil nutrient concentration suggest that Ctenomys mendocinus could be a keystone species, capable of orienting the dynamics of the plant community studied in this ecosystem. Nevertheless, further manipulative experiments are necessary to confirm that the differences found between disturbed and undisturbed areas are indeed caused by the activity of Ctenomys.
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