, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 203–215 | Cite as

Environmental Controls of Cryptogam Composition and Diversity in Anthropogenic and Natural Peatland Ecosystems of Chilean Patagonia

  • Carolina A. LeónEmail author
  • Gisela Oliván Martínez
  • Aurora Gaxiola


Peatlands exhibit highly characteristic ecological traits and are unique complex ecosystems. Nevertheless, knowledge about southern South American peatlands is very limited. In this study, we analyzed species composition of bryophytes and lichens of Southern Hemisphere peatlands, specifically from eight peatlands of Isla Grande de Chiloé (Chiloé Island) in southern Chile (42°–43°S and 75°–73°W). Two kinds of Sphagnum peatlands were studied: natural and anthropogenic peatlands. Our results indicate the existence of clear environmental gradients affecting the structure of bryo-lichenic communities in the Sphagnum peatlands of Chiloé. Canonical correspondence analysis suggests that variation in bryophyte and lichen species composition mainly follows ombrotrophic–minerotrophic and lithotrophic-thalassotrophic gradients. Surface-water chemistry is the most significant factor accounting for changes in floristic composition among our study sites. In contrast to our expectations, bog origin (natural or anthropic) was not the most significant factor accounting for changes in floristic composition among peatlands. Other elements, such as the water source supplying peatlands or the influence of sea spray, were more relevant in the bryo-lichenic flora species occurrence in the peatlands of Chiloé. We also observed clear differences in ecological niches among species in general additive model response curves. Therefore, our results show that despite the origin, the ecology of peatlands follows common rules with peatlands from the Northern Hemisphere.


bogs wetlands southern South America Chiloé CCA and GAM 



This research was supported by grants AECID A/025081/2009, Cooperación al Desarrollo UCM 4138114 and AECID A/030011/2011. We are very grateful to Dr. Alfonso Benítez-Mora for his assistance in the field. We wish to thank the Fundación Senda Darwin, Aserradero A.R.P., Chepu adventures, I. Municipalidad de Dalcahue and CONAF Chiloé for their logistic support during fieldwork. Lic. Elena Araujo for her help with TLC, Dra. Jara Vassallo for her assistance with the data analysis. C. A. León acknowledges the support of the doctoral fellowship provided by CONICYT-Gobierno de Chile. This is a contribution to the Research Program of LTSER-Chile network at Senda Darwin Biological Station, Chiloé, Chile.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolina A. León
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gisela Oliván Martínez
    • 2
  • Aurora Gaxiola
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Centro de Investigación en Recursos Naturales y SustentabilidadUniversidad Bernardo OHigginsSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Departamento de Biología Vegetal I, Facultad de Ciencias BiológicasUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de EcologíaPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  4. 4.Instituto de Ecología y BiodiversidadSantiagoChile

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