South American Paramo

Rising above the cloud forests and existing below the snow line in the northern Andes, the Paramo alpine is comprised of grass and herbaceous species above 3,000 m (9,843 ft) in elevation. This ecotype is poor in biotic integrity, which is how the term paramo, meaning sterile and uninhabited land in Spanish, was derived. Grassland vegetation is dominant in these systems and a unique presence of megaphytic Asteraceae exists. Soils in the Paramo are only slightly evolved due to highly resistant parent material. In the periglacial zone, between 4,000 and 4,300 m (13,123 and 14,108 ft) soils experience a daily freeze-thaw cycle.