Sancho, L.G., Palacios, D., Green, T.G.A., Vivas, M. & Pintado, A. (2010). Extreme high lichen growth rates detected in recently deglaciated areas in Tierra del Fuego. Polar Biology, published online on 18 November 2010.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5028
The goals of this study were to accurately determine the annual growth rate of two key lichen species for lichenometric studies in Tierra del Fuego and to provide more information on recent glacial evolution in the southernmost mountain range of South America. The study site was located on recent moraines deposited in front of a terminus of Pia Glacier in the East Arm of Pia Bay, a fjord of the Beagle Channel. Lichenometric measurements were made of the maximum and minimum axes on the five largest thalli of Rhizocarpon geographicum and Placopsis perrugosa at selected localities in the recently deglaciated area. Average growth rates were estimated from dated surfaces to be 0.63 mm year⁻¹ for R. geographicum and of 9.0 mm year⁻¹ for P. perrugosa. However, maximum growth rate of individual thalli of P. perrugosa could be as high as about 20 mm year⁻¹ increase in diameter directly measured from comparison between pictures taken over a 2-year interval. Both species had an almost linear increase in diameter size with the age of the rock surfaces and the distance from the glacier. The rapid colonization and growth of the lichens is mirrored by the higher plants with ecesis for Nothofagus trees being estimated at 4 years and height growth elongation at 30 cm year⁻¹.