Sites that provide paleoecological records from within modern montane forest settings are thinly scattered. The cause of this paucity lies in the geography of the Andes themselves (Figure 2.2). The flanks of the Andes are so steep that the vertical elevation occupied by montane forest is often spanned by just 10-30 km laterally. In the inter-Andean plateaus, montane forests are restricted to the wetter and somewhat lower sections of the northern Andes. The small area and lack of glacially-formed lakes within the elevations occupied by modern montane forest, combined with frequent rockslides and active tectonism, contribute to a landscape in which few ancient lakes formed and even fewer have survived.
The list of montane forest sites is expanded when we include those that have supported montane forest in the past. During the thermal optima of previous
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