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Lichenometry on Calcareous Substrates in the Canadian Rockies

  • Gerald Osborn (a1) and John Taylor (a2)

Lichen distribution and growth were examined at several sites in the Canadian Rockies between Mt. Robson and Banff townsite to determine the feasibility of lichenometry on calcareous deposits. The only lichen common enough to be of use is Xanthoria elegans, a bright orange lichen with round or elliptical thalli. It is not an ideal species for lichenometry because (a) it grows fairly quickly and has a range of only a few centuries, (b) growth is influenced by the presence of animal dung, (c) parts of some thalli weather away before maximum size is attained, (d) thalli may thicken as well as grow laterally with age, (e) the species is succeeded by other species relatively quickly in heavily forested environments, and (f) the species is not abundant on some deposits due to sometimes-unexplained environmental influences. However, when used with caution the species is still useful for dating purposes.

A growth curve for Xanthoria elegans was developed using moraines dated dendro-chronologically and man-made structures. After an ecesis interval of one or two decades the lichen grows at a rate of 0.68 mm/yr for several decades, then slows down to a rate of 0.22 mm/yr.

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J.T. Andrews , (1970). Differential crustal recovery and glacial chronology (6700-0 BP), West Baffin Island, N.W.T., Canada. Arctic and Alpine Research 2, 115 134.

J.B. Benedict , (1967). Recent glacial history of an alpine area in the Colorado Front Range, U.S.A.: I. Establishing a lichen-growth curve. Journal of Glaciology 6, 817 832.

J.B. Benedict , (1968). Recent glacial history of an alpine area in the Colorado Front Range, U.S.A.: II. Dating the glacial deposits. Journal of Glaciology 7, 77 87.

P.E. Carrara , J.T. Andrews , (1973). Problems and application of lichenometry to geomorphic studies, San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Arctic and Alpine Research 5, 373 384.

C.J. Heusser , (1956). Postglacial environments in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Ecological Monographs 26, 263 302.

P.J. Webber , J.T. Andrews , (1973). Lichenometry: a commentary. Arctic and Alpine Research 5, 295 302.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
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