Montane grasslands and shrublands

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This major habitat type includes high elevation (montane and alpine) grasslands and shrublands, including the puna and paramo in South America, subalpine heath in New Guinea and East Africa, steppes of the Tibetan plateaus, as well as other similar subalpine habitats around the world.

They are tropical, subtropical, and temperate.The plants and animals of tropical montane paramos display striking adaptations to cool, wet conditions and intense sunlight. Around the world, characteristic plants of these habitats display features such as rosette structures, waxy surfaces, and abundant pilosity.

The paramos of the northern Andes are the most extensive examples of this major habitat type. Although ecoregion biotas are most diverse in the Andes, these ecosystems are highly distinctive wherever they occur in the tropics. The heathlands and moorlands of East Africa (e.g., Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya, Rwenzori Mts.), Mt. Kinabalu of Borneo, and the Central Range of New Guinea are all limited in extent, extremely isolated, and support highly endemic plants and animals.

Drier, yet distinctive, subtropical montane grasslands, savannas, and woodlands include the Ethiopian Highlands, the Zambezian montane grasslands and woodlands, and the montane habitats of southeastern Africa.

The montane grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau still support relatively intact migrations of Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsoni) and kiang, or Tibetan wild ass (Equus hemionus). A unique feature of many tropical paramos is the presence of giant rosette plants from a variety of plant families, such as Lobelia (Africa), Puya (South America), Cyathea (New Guinea), and Argyroxiphium (Hawai’i) - these plant forms can reach elevations of 4,500-4,600 meters above sea level.

Biodiversity Patterns
These habitats may display high beta diversity, particularly between isolated montane areas and along altitudinal gradients; local and regional endemism can be pronounced in some regions.

Minimum Requirements
Large natural landscapes required in some regions because larger vertebrates track widely distributed seasonal or patchy resources; water sources and riparian vegetation important for wildlife in drier regions.

Sensitivity to Disturbance
These fragile habitats are highly sensitive to plowing, overgrazing, and excessive burning due to their challenging climatic and soil conditions; larger vertebrates sensitive to even low levels of hunting.



Central region of New Zealand's South Island
Southeastern Asia: Central New Guinea
Southeastern Australia


Southern Africa: Southern Tanzania into Malawi
Southern Africa: Southern Mal1awi into Mozambique
Eastern Africa: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda
Southern Africa: Eastern South Africa
Central Africa: Nigeria
Highveld grasslands
Ethiopian montane moorlands
Ethiopian montane grasslands and woodlands
Zimbabwe, Mozambique
Africa: Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania
Southern Africa: South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho
Drakensberg alti-montane grasslands and woodlands
Angolan Scarp savanna and woodlands
Angolan montane forest-grassland mosaic


Kinabalu montane alpine meadows


Southern North America: Southern Mexico
Southern South America: Western Argentina into Chile
Northern South America: Northern Colombia
Western South America: Central Ecuador into Colombia
Northern South America: Western Venezuela
Eastern South America: Southern Ecuador and northern Peru
Western South America: Peru and Bolivia
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile


Eastern Asia: Southern China
Southern Asia: Central Nepal to northern India
Eastern Asia: Central China
Tian Shan montane steppe and meadows
Asia: Afghanistan and Pakistan
Central Asia: Southern Russia into Mongolia
Eastern Asia: Central China
Pamir alpine desert and tundra
China: Primarily Ningxia and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regions; also Sha'anxi and Gansu Provinces
China, Pakistan, and India
Northern Africa: Central Morocco
Central Iran
Central Asia: Southern Turkmenistan and northern Iran
Central Asia: Central Mongolia
Indian Subcontinent--Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, India
South Asia: Northeastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan
Southern Asia: Central Afghanistan
Southern Asia: Bhutan, India, Myanmar, and Nepal
Eastern Asia: Central China
Altai alpine meadow and tundra