• Columnar cactus;
  • Life form diversity;
  • Semi-arid habitat
  • Dávila et al. (1993)

Abstract. Plant life-form abundance along a 600 m altitudinal gradient (1600–2200 m a.s.l.) in the semi-arid valley of Zapotitlán, México was correlated with soil characteristics and climatic variables. One mixed soil sample was taken and analysed for each of six elevations, temperature was estimated using a terrestrial thermal gradient, and precipitation using a linear regression between total annual precipitation and the elevation of the weather stations in the valley. Rosettes, microphanerophytes, therophytes and nanophanerophytes were well represented throughout the gradient. Columnar cacti were restricted to the 1600–1800 m range, and geophytes to the 1700–1800 m range. In general, abundance of life forms was inversely associated with altitude. Multiple regression analysis did not show parameters to significantly explain the abundance of rosettes, nanophanerophytes, epiphytes, geophytes and hemiparasites; altitude and nitrogen proved significant for columnar cacti, succulents and chamaephytes; altitude, pH, electrical conductivity and nitrogen were significant for globose cacti; pH was significant for therophytes; and altitude was significant for microphanerophytes.