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The distribution of plants in Scoska Cave, North Yorkshire, and their relationship to light intensity.

Author(s): Pentecost Allan | Zhaohui Zhang

Journal: International Journal of Speleology
ISSN 0392-6672

Volume: 30;
Issue: 1-4;
Start page: 27;
Date: 2001;
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Keywords: Caves | flora | bryophytes | light

The flora of a small limestone cave was investigated. A total of 59 species was recorded (4 algae, 3 lichens, 47 bryophytes, 4 ferns, 1 angiosperm) making it bryologically the richest cave in Britain and one of the richest in Europe. All but nine of the species had been recorded from other European caves. Species-richness declined irregullarly from the entrance (relative irradiance with respect to open sky 12%) to 34m depth (rel. irradiance 0.004%). Bryophytes were found at 0-16m depth where relative irradiance declined to 0.2% and only algae were encountered at 34m depth. While irradiance, which declined exponentially, was the major factor controlling plant distribution, substratum characteristics and surface moisture were also important.

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