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1. Desertification negatively impacts a large proportion of the global human population and > 30% of the terrestrial land surface. Better methods are needed to detect areas that are at risk of desertification and to ameliorate desertified areas. Biological soil crusts are an important soil lichen-moss-microbial community that can be used toward these goals, as (i) bioindicators of desertification damage and (ii) promoters of soil stability and fertility. 2. We identified environmental factors that correlate with soil crust occurrence on the landscape and might be manipulated to assist recovery of soil crusts in degraded areas. We conducted three studies on the Colorado Plateau, USA, to investigate the hypotheses...
Recent research suggests that micronutrients such as Mn may limit growth of slow-growing biological soil crusts (BSCs) in some of the drylands of the world. These soil surface communities contribute strongly to arid ecosystem function and are easily degraded, creating a need for new restoration tools. The possibility that Mn fertilization could be used as a restoration tool for BSCs has not been tested previously. We used microcosms in a controlled greenhouse setting to investigate the hypothesis that Mn may limit photosynthesis and consequently growth in Collema tenax, a dominant N-fixing lichen found in BSCs worldwide. We found no evidence to support our hypothesis; furthermore, addition of other nutrients (primarily...
Biological soil crust (BSC) communities (composed of lichens, bryophytes, and cyanobacteria) may be more dynamic on short-time scales than previously thought, requiring new and informative short-term monitoring techniques. We used repeat digital photography and image analysis, which revealed a change in area of a dominant BSC lichen, Collema tenax. The data generated correlated well with gross photosynthesis (r=0.57) and carotenoid content (r=0.53), two variables that would be expected to be positively related to lichen area. We also extracted fatty acids from lichen samples and identified useful phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) indicators for the Collema mycobiont (20:1, 15:0, 23:0), and the Collema photobiont (18:3?3)....
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Conservation prioritization usually focuses on conservation of rare species or biodiversity, rather than ecological processes. This is partially due to a lack of informative indicators of ecosystem function. Biological soil crusts (BSCs) trap and retain soil and water resources in arid ecosystems and function as major carbon and nitrogen fixers; thus, they may be informative indicators of ecosystem function. We created spatial models of multiple indicators of the diversity and function of BSCs (species richness, evenness, functional diversity, functional redundancy, number of rare species, number of habitat specialists, nitrogen and carbon fixation indices, soil stabilization, and surface roughening) for the 800,000-ha...
Biological soil crusts (BSCs) are ubiquitous lichen?bryophyte microbial communities, which are critical structural and functional components of many ecosystems. However, BSCs are rarely addressed in the restoration literature. The purposes of this review were to examine the ecological roles BSCs play in succession models, the backbone of restoration theory, and to discuss the practical aspects of rehabilitating BSCs to disturbed ecosystems. Most evidence indicates that BSCs facilitate succession to later seres, suggesting that assisted recovery of BSCs could speed up succession. Because BSCs are ecosystem engineers in high abiotic stress systems, loss of BSCs may be synonymous with crossing degradation thresholds....
The stable isotopic composition of water is routinely used as a tracer to study water exchange processes in vascular plants and ecosystems. To date, no study has focussed on isotope processes in non-vascular, poikilohydric organisms such as lichens and bryophytes. To understand basic isotope exchange processes of non-vascular plants, thallus water isotopic composition was studied in various green-algal lichens exposed to desiccation. The study indicates that lichens equilibrate with the isotopic composition of surrounding water vapour. A model was developed as a proof of concept that accounts for the specific water relations of these poikilohydric organisms. The approach incorporates first their variable thallus...
Soil erosion and subsequent degradation has been a contributor to societal collapse in the past and is one of the major expressions of desertification in arid regions. The revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) models soil lost to water erosion as a function of climate erosivity (the degree to which rainfall can result in erosion), topography, soil erodibility, and land use/management. The soil erodibility factor (K) is primarily based upon inherent soil properties (those which change slowly or not at all) such as soil texture and organic matter content, while the cover/management factor (C) is based on several parameters including biological soil crust (BSC) cover. We examined the effect of two more precise...


    map background search result map search result map Prioritizing Conservation Effort through the Use of Biological Soil Crusts as Ecosystem Function Indicators in an Arid Region Prioritizing Conservation Effort through the Use of Biological Soil Crusts as Ecosystem Function Indicators in an Arid Region