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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...
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Biological soil crusts (BSCs) are an integral part of dryland ecosystems and often included in long-term ecological monitoring programs. Estimating moss and lichen cover is fairly easy and non-destructive, but documenting cyanobacterial level of development (LOD) is more difficult. It requires sample collection for laboratory analysis, which causes soil surface disturbance. Assessing soil surface stability also requires surface disturbance. Here we present a visual technique to assess cyanobacterial LOD and soil surface stability. We define six development levels of cyanobacterially dominated soils based on soil surface darkness. We sampled chlorophyll a concentrations (the most common way of assessing cyanobacterial...
Soil surface growths dominated by cyanobacteria and the lichen Collema in southeastern Utah are shown to be associated with greater tissue content of several bio-essential elements in two co-occurring seed plants (Festuca octoflora, Poaceae, and Mentzelia multiflora, Loasaceae). The elements N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and Fe were present in significantly greater concentrations in Festuca growing on soils heavily encrusted with cyanobacteria and cyanolichens than in plants on the same soil where foot traffic had destroyed the cryptobiotic crusts. With Mentzelia, N, Mg, and Fe were present in significantly greater concentrations in plants from sites with encrusted soil surfaces than on blow-sand sites. The cryptobiota appeared...
Biological soil crusts are an important component of desert ecosystems, as they influence soil stability and fertility. This study examined and compared the short-term vehicular impacts on lichen cover and nitrogenase activity (NA) of biological soil crusts. Experimental disturbance was applied to different types of soil in regions throughout the western U.S. (Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Mojave deserts). Results show that pre-disturbance cover of soil lichens is significantly correlated with the silt content of soils, and negatively correlated with sand and clay. While disturbance appeared to reduce NA at all sites, differences were statistically significant at only 12 of the 26 sites....
Soil surfaces dominated by cyanobacteria and cyanolichens (such as Collema sp.) are widespread in deserts of the world. The influence of these biological soil crusts on the uptake of bioessential elements is reported for the first time for six seed plants of the deserts of Utah. This sample almost doubles the number of species for which the influence of biological soil crusts on mineral uptake of associated vascular plants is known. These new case studies, and others previously published, demonstrate that cyanobacterial or cyanobacteria- Collema crusts significantly alter uptake by plants of many bioessential elements. In studies now available, these crusts always increase the N content of associated seed plants....
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Biological soil crusts (BSCs), a consortium of cyanobacteria, lichens, and mosses, are essential in most dryland ecosystems. As these organisms are relatively immobile and occur on the soil surface, they are exposed to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition, rising temperatures, and alterations in precipitation patterns. In this study, we applied treatments to three types of BSCs (early, medium, and late successional) over three time periods (spring, summer, and spring–fall). In the first year, we augmented UV and altered precipitation patterns, and in the second year, we augmented UV and N. In the first year, with average air temperatures, we saw little response to our...
Biological soil crusts (cyanobacteria, mosses and lichens collectively) perform essential ecosystem services, including carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) fixation. Climate and land-use change are converting later successional soil crusts to early successional soil crusts with lower C and N fixation rates. To quantify the effect of such conversions on C and N dynamics in desert ecosystems we seasonally measured diurnal fixation rates in different biological soil crusts. We classified plots on the Colorado Plateau (Canyonlands) and Chihuahuan Desert (Jornada) as early (Microcoleus) or later successional (Nostoc/Scytonema or Placidium/Collema) and measured photosynthesis (Pn), nitrogenase activity (NA), and chlorophyll fluorescence...


    map background search result map search result map Global change and biological soil crusts: effects of ultraviolet augmentation under altered precipitation regimes and nitrogen additions Visually assessing the level of development and soil surface stability of cyanobacterially dominated biological soil crusts Global change and biological soil crusts: effects of ultraviolet augmentation under altered precipitation regimes and nitrogen additions Visually assessing the level of development and soil surface stability of cyanobacterially dominated biological soil crusts