Species diversity of epilithic cyanobacteria was studied in a 90 m deep prehistoric el-Wad cave eroded in Cenomanian limestones of Mount Carmel, Israel. The degree of illumination is the most variable index throughout the cave, whereas humidity and temperature vary moderately. In a number of sites inside the cave dripping water occurs due to filtration of rain water. In el-Wad cave 42 species from 20 genera of blue-green algae were found. The share of coccoid forms decreased and filamentous (especially oscillatorial) ones increased from the entrance to the end of the cave. Intensity of light was the governing factor for distribution of cyanobacteria in el-Wad cave; the availability of dripping affected it to a lesser extent due to the constantly high humidity of the air. Diversity of species composition and taxonomic spectrum of cyanophytes was reduced from the entrance to the end of the cave, covarying positively with darkness stress.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to the Israeli Nature Reserves Authority for authorization to sample the cave. We thank Professors N.V. Kondratyeva and E.l. Friedmann for critically commenting on the manuscript. We thank for financial support the Israel Ministry of Science grants 1426, 6359, and 4147; the Israel Ministry of Absorption, the Israel Discount Bank Chair of Evolutionary Biology, and the Ancell Teicher Research Foundation for Genetics and Molecular Evolution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science