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Puna grassland

Puna is a type of montane grassland found in the central Andes Mountains of South America. It is considered one of the eight Natural Regions in Peru, but extends south as far as northern Argentina and Chile.


The puna is found above the treeline at 3,200 - 3,500 m elevation, and below the permanent snow line above 4,500 - 5,000 m elevation. It extends from central Peru in the north, across the Altiplano plateau of Peru and Bolivia, and south along the spine of the Andes into northern Argentina and Chile.

Other sources speak from the treeline to 4,100 m about Suni and from 4,100 m. to the snow line (permafrost and alpine desert) of Puna grassland .


The flora of the puna is characterized by alpine bunchgrasses interspersed with herbs, grasses, lichens, mosses, ferns, cushion plants, and occasional low shrubs, with sedges and rushes in poorly-drained areas. The puna is generally drier than the paramo montane grasslands of the northern Andes.


Native mammals include llamas, alpacas, vicunas and guanacos. Relatively few birds, such as the Darwin's Rhea, Andean Condor, and certain miners and yellow-finches, are frequently found in the vast expanses of puna grasslands, but numerous birds are associated with the highland lakes and marshes that are found in the puna grasslands, for example the Andean Goose, Andean Flamingo, Andean Avocet, Giant Coot, Puna Teal and Diademed Sandpiper-plover.


People of this region cultivate barley, potatoes and maca. Alpacas, vicunas, and guanacos are raised for wool, and llamas for wool and transport.


The World Wildlife fund defines three distinct puna ecoregions:

NT1003 Central Andean wet puna - With about 1,000 mm of precipitation each year, it tends to be covered by grasses mixed with herbs, lichens, mosses, and ferns. Wet areas have sedges and rushes. The Polylepis forests of 10,000 years ago were likely cleared by fire for agriculture and grazing. Many areas are farmed. It extends from north-central Peru, adjacent to the paramos, and reaches southeast to along the eastern altiplano of Bolivia.

NT1002 Central Andean puna - Covering most of southern Peru, the region is dominated by shrublands and thickets of tola shrubs.

NT1001 Central Andean dry puna - Mostly in the southern part of the Central Andes along the western cordillera of Bolivia. There is little agriculture.


Andean Continental Divide

Mountain Top:

Mountain passes - 4,100 m

Puna grassland

Andean-alpine desert

Snow line - about 5,000 m

Janca - Rocks, Snow and Ice


See also

Climate zones by altitude

Altitudinal zonation

External links

Central Andean puna (World Wildlife Fund)

Central Andean wet puna (World Wildlife Fund)

Central Andean dry puna (World Wildlife Fund)

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Puna grassland

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