Lampenflora is a German term widely used to indicate photosynthetic organisms which are able to grow in subterranean environments by exploiting artificial lights. The main components of lampenflora are microalgae, which can proliferate creating extended biofilms on cave walls. The implementation of management procedures to reduce the growth of lampenflora in showcaves is fundamental, considering that its proliferation may cause physical, chemical and aesthetic damage to the cave speleothems (i.e. stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flowstones and stonewalls). The aim of this work is to investigate which environmental variables are the main drivers of lampenflora growth in Bossea showcave in order to provide general suggestions for management activities. We focused on the three main photosynthetic groups composing lampenflora: diatoms, green algae and cyanobacteria. We identified 28 illuminated walls in which 3 sampling plots at different distances from the light were defined. With the aid of the Benthotorch® fluorometer, in each sampling plot we measured the chlorophyll a concentrations of cyanobacteria, diatoms and green algae, which were related to the environmental factors possibly favouring their growth or dispersion via Generalized Linear Mixed Models. Results obtained from statistical models revealed different responses of the three photosynthetic groups to environmental variables, with the light intensity as the common driver, influencing positively their abundances. Cyanobacteria and diatoms are also favoured by the presence of seeping water on rock surface and high windspeed next to the rock plays a role in containing diatom growth. In view of our results, management should be addressed towards a reduction of light intensity, and particular attention should be paid in cleaning those walls where seeping water is present.
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