Inter-Andean Valleys

In northern Peru, there are a wide variety of environments formed by the Andean Cordillera and the rivers that dissect them. In western Cajamarca, the deep valley cut by the north flowing Río Marañón produces an Inter-Andean formation between the high-elevation "jalca" of the central Cordillera and the eastern escarpment [6°30'-9°00'S latitude]. Environments change rapidly as you decend from nearly 4500 m to 800 m and then ascend again to equal heights, and all over a very short lateral distance. At the bottom of the valley exists a unique desert formation that includes columnar cacti and thorny shrubs, many of which are only found in the Río Marañón valley.

The profundity and aridity of the valley have acted as barriers to both dispersal and establishment. As a consquence there are several instances where closely related species are found on either side of the Marañón valley. This photograph was taken just south of Balsas along the east bank of the Río Marañón. We are currently collecting data from this region.

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