Distribution of C3 and C4 grasses along an altitudinal gradient in Central Argentina


Marcelo Cabido IMBIV, Casilla de Correo 495, 5000 Córdoba, Argentina.


The distribution pattern of C3 and C4 grasses was studied in eight sites located between 350 m and 2100 m along an altitudinal gradient in Central Argentina. Of 139 taxa fifty-nine are C3 and eighty C4. Species of the C3 tribes (Stipeae, Poeae, Meliceae, Aveneae, Bromeae and Triticeae) and C3 Paniceae species increase in number at higher elevations; only one C3 species was found below 650 m. C4 Aristideae, Pappophoreae, Eragrostideae, Cynodonteae, Andropogoneae and Paniceae increase at lower altitudes. The floristic crossover point is at about 1500 m; the ground cover cross-over point is at about 1000 m. Analysis of the relationships between % C4 species along the gradient and nine climatic and environmental variables showed the highest correlation with July mean temperature, but all temperature variables show highly significant correlations with % C4. Correlation with annual rainfall is lower but also significant. These results are consistent with previous research showing the relative importance of C4 grasses as temperature increases. C3 species make a high contribution to relative grass coverage below the C3/C4 floristic crossover point but are rare below 1000 m.