The Andes of Ecuador are one of the world's hotspots of vascular plants. These hotspot characteristics apply particularly to the divergence zone of the study site situated in the Cordillera Real near the Estación Científica San Francisco (ECSF) in the northernmost part of Podocarpus National Park (3°58′S; 79°04′W). Here, family and species numbers vary considerably between primary mountain forest stands and anthropogenic sites at similar altitudes. The highest family as well as species numbers (95 and 491, respectively, at 2000–2100 m; 68 and 296 at 2400–2500 m, with sample areas of 400 m2 each) document the extraordinarily high plant diversity of primary mountain forest stands. Comparatively, on anthropogenic sites, the analogous numbers are much smaller, with only 64 families/186 species at the lower altitudinal level and 54 families/155 species at the higher altitudinal level.
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