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Abstract Detail

Systematics Section

Diazgranados, Mauricio [1], Nicolas, Rodriguez [2], Barber, Janet [1].

Interactive Digital Key for the frailejones (Espeletiinae Cuatrec., Asteraceae) of the South American paramos.

The paramos of the Northern Andes are largely dominated by a group of composite species known as frailejones. These plants comprise a neotropical monophyletic assemblage and are found between 1,800-4,700 m in elevation in Colombia (ca. 81 spp.), Venezuela (ca. 69 spp.) and Ecuador (1 sp.). The group is widely recognized as a classic example of rapid radiation in the tropics due to its remarkable diversity. The nearly 143 named species are classified into eight genera: Carramboa (5 spp.), Coespeletia (6 spp.), Espeletia (68 spp.), Espeletiopsis (27 spp.), Libanothamnus (11 spp.), Paramiflos (1 sp.), Ruilopezia (24 spp.) and Tamania (1 sp.). Unfortunately, only one published key (1996) exists for a single genus, and one extremely incomplete treatment for Espeletia published in1935 that includes only 20% of the currently recognized species. Cuatrecasas' monograph of the subtribe remains unpublished. This monograph does not include more than ten recently discovered species and describes only seven of the eight genera (excluding Espeletiopsis); furthermore, its dichotomous keys are particularly difficult to follow due to the large number of overlapping continuous characters. We have constructed an interactive digital key for the Espeletiinae, using the software Lucid3 v.3.5. The key includes all currently known species and incorporates 566 features (=character states), scored using seven conditions (absent, common, rare, uncertain, common and misinterpreted, rare and misinterpreted, and not scoped), in addition to numeric variables representing normal ranges and extreme values. The lack of consistency between species descriptions was a challenge, and often required careful re-examination of specimens. Performance of the key was tested repeatedly. On average, 69 features distinguish any two randomly chosen species, and 23 distinguish the most similar species. By using the wizard tool of the key to choose the best diagnostic characters, users can identify any species in only a few steps. The key includes photographs and illustrations for species and morphological characters, glossaries and distribution maps. It is available online at

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Related Links:
The Espeletia Project

1 - Saint Louis University, Biology, 3507 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, MO, 63103, USA
2 - Universidad de los Andes, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Apartado Aéreo 4976, Bogotá, D.C., Colombia

Digital Key.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 51
Location: Lindell A/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Time: 4:15 PM
Number: 51012
Abstract ID:298

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