..... GREENLAND ..... ..... EXPEDITION ..... .ORG

Climbing from Stordalens Havn in Cape Farewell Region


Species Records - by Dr P.W.F. Gribbon



This work was a supplement to my programme on the number of species and their distributional type that I had done on earlier expeditions. The present study complements that made in the more inland valley system and mountains visited in 1971. Some of this earlier work has been published eg: "Distributional-type spectra for Greenland montane localities" Botan. Notisk., 1968.

My interest extends to the species growing in montane situations where a professional botanist is unlikely to spend much time. Records, and sometimes collections, were made at a number of locations, whose details are given below in a numerical order corresponding to an increasing height with each location. The mountain localities were:-

(1) Lost Loch Camp (60 deg 13` N, 44 deg 33` W)

This was situated in a sheltered upland basin, ringed on three sides by mountainous walls and open to the south. Records were made at (a) the slab fringe on the corrie sides at 580 +/- 50m; (c) the corrie lip at 510m; and (b) the slopes below the lip at 480 +/- 50m.

Lost Loch Camp

The slopes above the loch support a wide variety of species, often in lush meadows, dominated by single species such as Alchemilla glomerulans, and visible as extensive areas of green from a considerable distance. These striking vegetated areas are interspersed with steep scree and gravel slopes cut by gullies and streams draining off the slab fringe round the corrie. There are also luxuriant ledges, again well supplied with drainage moisture, above the slabs, and these are intermingled with dry ledges and cracks with an adequate soil cover. Species were recorded: (a) over a 50m height range in an area covering many hundreds of square metres in this key and comparative locality. The slopes below the corrie lip (b) were covered for a 50m height range over an extensive area of several hundred square metres: these slopes have willow or heath strips, containing small streamlets, separated by gravel and boulder slopes, and end in a grassland fringe with a soil-debris bank under the slabs of the corrie lip. The corrie lip itself (c) has less suitable conditions on the roche moutonee rocks and slabs below the rock outlet cascade and amongst the poorly-drained soils alternating with climatically exposed ledges on the rocks at the edge of the moraine boulder fields at the lochshore.

These three adjacent areas provide a complete picture of the possible vegetation patterns in such an upland site in a South Greenland valley: we are dealing here with optimum climatic conditions. At lower altitudes the slopes and the valley floors are dominated by a more limited number of species capable of developing under a range of less favourable soil, drainage and climatic factors: the hillsides and valleys either develop a boreal-forest covering of willow scrub under damp conditions, or a heathland pattern of crowberries and mosses under dry conditions. The upland site, with its wide, open, sunny aspect, its varied soil and moisture content, sustains an extensive association of vascular species.

(2) Crossoak Road (60 deg 8` N, 44 deg 29` W)

Dry ledges, with southeast aspect, with moist meltwater patches on the col of the ridge up this hill at 980 +/- 20m.

(3) Spirifer (60 deg 13` N, 44 deg 31` W)

Small, south-aspect, ledge of area 20 x 20 m, lying on the main drainage line down the south face of the mountain. Dry ledges and cracks occur above a moist patch at 1120m.

(4) Matterhorn 'C' (60 deg 14` N, 44 deg 32` W)

Dry ledges and cracks, plus wet drainage gullies, with an east aspect on the north ridge of the mountain at 1200 +/- 70m. (9) is the summit platform on this mountain at 1430m.

(5) Canines (60 deg 13` N, 44 deg 34` W)

This was a series of ledges at the head of a southerly gully close to the main ridge at 1300 +/- 5m.

(6) Blockhead (60 deg 12` N, 44 deg 29` W)

Some dry ledges, southerly aspect, under the east ridge at 1330m: probably a limited and incomplete record.

(7) Twin Pillars of Pamiagdluk (60 deg 3` N, 44 deg 22` W)

This was a prominent terrace with adjacent ledges on the slabby east face at about 1350m. This locality is on an island closer to the open sea, and is not strictly comparable with the above sites.

(8) Freebie (60 deg 10` N, 44 deg 39` W)

The open, scree gravel and bouldery summit of this mountain at 1380m.

There were 91 species recorded in the vicinity of Lost Loch (1). Of these, the following had not been recorded in the parallel valley system visited in 1971:

Botrychium lunaria

Asplenium viride

Dryopteris felix-mas

Stellaria calycantha

Stellaria longipes

Scripus caespitose

Nardus stricta

Listera cordata

Platanthera hyperborean

Some of these are ferns and orchids, and reflect the more favourable conditions: others might have been expected previously, but were not seen. Additional species found in the nearby mountains were:

Euphrasia frigida

Draba lacteal

Campanula uniflora

Armeria maritime

A comparison with the number of species found at different altitudes in the two valleys visited in 1971 and 1975 shows that there are more species at a given altitude in the more southerly valley system, but that the rate at which species number falls off with altitude is similar, except towards the upper altitudes when the rate increases more rapidly in the southern valley. This can be interpreted as showing that the closer proximity of the larger glacier systems and the Inlandsis reduces the chance of these montane species occurring or surviving at a given height in the northern valley: their environment is less favourable. The mountains in the Lost Loch district exhibit the optimum conditions to be found in South Greenland, because closer to the coast in the Land of the Towers the overall vegetation cover and hence the number of species present was seen to be much less at an equivalent altitude.

The table of species also includes those recorded at the following lowland localities:-

(V) Stordalens Havn (60 deg 10` N, 44 deg 29` W)

This is at the eastern end of the wide gentle open valley running westward through the mountains. It is rather bleak and exposed to crosswinds along the valley. The sheltered river banks provide the best habitat. The river terraces are mixed dry or moist open ground.

(X) Sallies Kitchen Camp (60 deg 10` N, 44 deg 37` W)

This site was the open valley floor just beyond the moraines with the adjacent slopes, gravel flats, and boulder fields. Although a northern-aspect corrie, it gets reasonable sunshine and shelter from the main valley winds. Records were made also on river banks and mossy flushes. Altitude 340m.

(A) Angnikitsoq Camp (60 deg 8` N, 44 deg 15` W)

A sheltered south facing bay on the west coast of this island. Many varied habitats from river to dry terraces, and from crag ledges and platforms to the seashore.

(P) Anordliutsoq Camp (60 deg 4` N, 44 deg 16` W)

This is the old Inuit settlement and our camp area on Pamiagdluk Island: a rolling golf-course country with hillocks and little valleys, lochan pools and dry tundra, beaches and cliffs.

(Q) Qasigissat Camp (60 deg 6` N, 44 deg 5` W)

A southerly bay of Perutussut imat on the western shore of Christian IV's Island and opposite to Angnikitsoq Island. A broad dry terrace above the shore with steep banks down to a river tumbling down from a wide valley running into the mountains.

(T) Tornassuk Camp (60 deg N, 44 deg 5` W)

A desolate bleak northern shore, exposed to east-west winds crossing frequent drifts of pack ice, with tussocky ground leading up into a broken hillside.

These seashore localities all have a reasonable, if scattered, variety of lowland species. The number of species, as expected, deceases towards the less favourable conditions of the outer and cool coastline with its chilling barrier of pack ice.

The listed species in this report should be considered in conjunction with those given in the 1971 expedition report and in the reports of other expeditions to give a fuller picture of the flora of the hinterland hills and islands near Cape Farewell, South Greenland. Further information for the area from:

Bocher, Meddr. Gronland, 124,8,1956;

Hartz, Meddr. Gronland 15, 1, 1894; .......and other sources.

Dr P.W.F.Gribbon



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