Floristic Inventory of the Alto Mayo Cuenca, San Martín, Peru
The eastern Amazonian rain forests comprise over 60% of Peru's total area and represent an important natural resource. The Department of San Martín in northeastern Peru is home to extensive upper elevation montane forests where the ceja de la montaña or the eyebrow of the forest give way to the lowland rain forests of the Amazon basin. The forests in this zone are termed Selva Alta or pre-montane forests (500-1500 m). The population of northeastern Peru is growing rapidly and this growth has resulted in the exploitation of unprotected forest.
In 1986, the Peruvian government set aside 182,000 hectares of these forests under the protected status of Bosque de Protección Alto Mayo, an area roughly representing the cuenca or watershed of the Río Alto Mayo in extreme northwestern San Martín. The forests of the Bosque de Protección Alto Mayo represent the largest remaining tract of Selva Alta in northeastern Peru. With partial support of the National Geographic Society (Grant 5791-96), collecting expeditions were conducted between 1995 – 2000 by Michael Dillon and Field Museum Research Associate, Isidoro Sánchez Vega, Universidad Nacional de Cajamarca.
The database currently contains 1274 records and represents the floristic inventory that yielded 125 plant families, 405 genera, and no fewer than 750 species. A set of collections is deposited at the Universidad Nacional de Cajamarca (CPUN), Cajamarca, Peru, a second set at the Museo de Historia Natural (HAO), Trujillo was destroyed in a fire, and the third set is at the Field Museum (F), Chicago, Illinois, USA. Duplicates were distributed to over 66 national and international taxonomic experts as 'gifts-for-determination'.
Images of herbarium sheets from a reference collection of Alto Mayo plants at Field Museum were made and associated with their database records. We acknowledge the support of Field Museum Woman’s Board 'Field of Dreams' program.
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