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High-elevation wetlands in South America are not well described despite their high sensitivity to human impact and unique biodiversity. We describe the hydroclimatological and limnological characteristics of 21 wetlands on the High Andean Plateau of Argentina, synthesizing information gathered over ten years (2010–2020). We collected physical-chemical, phytoplankton, and zooplankton data and counted flamingos in each wetland. We also conducted an extensive analysis of climatic patterns and hydrological responses since 1985. These wetlands are shallow, with a wide range of salinity (from fresh to brine), mostly alkaline, and are dominated by carbonate and gypsum deposits and sodium-chloride waters. They tend to have high nutrient concentrations. Plankton shows a low species richness and moderate to high dominance of taxa. Flamingos are highly dependent on the presence of Bacillariophyta, which appears to be positively linked to silica and soluble reactive phosphorus availability. Climatic conditions show a strong region-wide increase in average air temperature since the mid-1980s and a decrease in precipitation between 1985–1999 and 2000–2020. These high-elevation wetlands are fundamentally sensitive systems; therefore, having baseline information becomes imperative to understanding the impact of climatic changes and other human perturbations. This work attempts to advance the body of scientific knowledge of these unique wetland systems.




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Advances in the Ecohydrology of Arid Lands




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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.