This study is the first to characterize the limnological features of high-altitude peatland pools in the Andes cordillera (>4000 m). Data were collected at two different spatial scales: the scale of individual patches of peatland (bofedales; areas ranging between 0.0 1 and 10 ha) and the scale of 'localities' (areas of approximately 7 km(2)). Patterns of variable associations were similar at the different spatial scales. The major gradient of variation appeared to represent a productivity gradient. Water plant cover and richness were associated with alkalinity.