Micro-scale biopitting by endolithic lichen and their role in meso-scale solution basin development on limestone

John P. McIlroy De La Rosa, Patricia A. Warke, Bernard J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Data are reported demonstrating the potential role of microscale morphologies, induced by endolithic lichen communities, specifically Verrucaria baldensis, in the initiation and development of mesoscale solution basin formation on limestone in the Burren, Co. Clare. A biophysical model is proposed outlining the different microscale stages leading to solution basin initiation with a progression from initial lichen colonisation and growth, associated biopitting followed by biopit coalescence to form biotroughs, their subsequent enlargement and eventual incipient solution basin formation. This model provides one explanation for solution basin development as this end state may also be achieved through simple solutional means without biological input. The complexity of interactions at the rock / lichen interface are identified with emphasis on the spatial and temporal variability of these underlining the point that, as with macro-topographies at the landscape scale, rock surface micro-topographies also reflect historical weathering legacies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-384
Number of pages11
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number4
Early online date16 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2012


  • Limestone
  • Lichen
  • Bio-pitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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