Research Topic

Ecological Development and Functioning of Biological Soil Crusts After Natural and Human Disturbances

Maik Veste, Vincent John Martin Noah Linus Felde, Steven D Warren, Nicole Pietrasiak 

Biological soil crusts (BSCs) develop when various combinations of diminutive cyanobacteria, eukaryotic algae, non-lichenized fungi, lichens, and/or bryophytes occupy the upper few millimeters of the soil and raw material. They can be present in a wide range of ecological, including successional, and climatic conditions when and where disturbance and/or aridity have resulted in opportunities for colonization. However, they are most prevalent in arid, semiarid and polar ecosystems where vascular plant cover and diversity are characteristically low, leaving large areas available for colonization by some combination of the organismal groups mentioned above. The ecological roles of BSCs are numerous and diverse, and include the collection, accumulation and cycling of essential airborne and soil nutrients, redistribution of precipitated water, and soil formation and stabilization. (More... Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution).

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