The Huancabamba Biogeographical Province covers sections of southern Ecuador and northern Peru, and is well known for both its biodiversity and high levels of endemism. Páramo, a form of tropical alpine vegetation, covers less area in this region than in other tropical montane regions, and is dominated by shrubs instead of tussock grasses. A botanical inventory was conducted at a páramo site in Podocarpus National Park, southern Ecuador. Located between 3385 and 3250 m elevation, this site covers 2.4 ha of grass- and shrub-dominated vegetation communities. Fifty-five families, 90 genera and 136 species occurred, 27 of which are endemic to Ecuador. Both the combination of species and the growth forms differ markedly from those of most other páramo ecosystems. After describing the floristic characteristics of the site, I discuss the species composition, growth forms, and patterns of endemism in relation to various geographical and ecological factors.
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Vol. 135 • No. 4