Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 34 Number 1: 15-25 - January 1972

A publication of the National Speleological Society

The Effects of Photoperiod and Some Microenvironmental Factors on Plant Growth in Lehman Cave, Nevada
Lillian Sheps


A study ws made of the effect of regular photoperiods on the growth of plants in Lehman Cave, Nevada. When the usual irregular lighting, governed by numbers of daily tours, was replaced by 6- or 12-hr photoperiods, growth greatly exceeded that in non-controlled areas. A number of different microenvironments containing different plant species were observed within the overall relatively stable cave environment. Some factors involved in these microenvironments are light, temperature, soil moisture, relative humidity, and pH. The plant potential of the cave was found to exceed existing vegetation in both lighted as well as dark areas, as shown by the rapid appearance of algae when lights were introduced into a previously dark area, the successful transplanting of cave lower plant species to lighted areas devoid of vegetation, and the introduction, through seeds, of higher plants. Animal interaction was observed, especially with higher plants. Cultures of cave plant species did poorer under apparently more optimal controlled laboratory conditions than in the cave.

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