Biological Soil Crusts 

Worldwide the soils in arid and semi-arid regions is often covered by various  species of cyanobacteria, bacteria, green algae, mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi.  Biocrusts influencing the ecosysten processes: they influencing hydrological processes and decrease infiltration rates In addition to the influence on the ecohydrological conditions, the biological crust also stabilises the topsoil, reduces soil erosion, and enhances the nitrogen pools by nitrogen fixation. The understanding of pattern formations and interactions with biogeochemical and biotic processes are important for ecological theory and for applications in restoration ecology and soil reclamation.

Although biological soil crusts can be found in open landscapes worldwide, their species composition depends on soil properties such as texture and pH, on microclimate, and their respective developmental stage. In addition, local variations in water holding capacity and/or chemical properties of soils influence the formation of spatial patterns and different types of biocrusts on the landscape level. Photosynthetic activity and community respiration were measured in relation to successional stage and species composition. As photoautotroph microbiotic communities they contribute to carbon accumulation and soil formation of initial soils. For the evaluation of biocrusts functions and their impact on soil carbon pools, the analysis of the interrelationship between photosynthetic activity and the variations of spatial distribution pattern and types of biocrust is indispensable. For this purpose, an image processing approach was applied that combined chlorophyll fluorescence analyses and multispectral BNDVI to comprehensively characterize the spatial patterns of photosynthetic hotspots in biological soil crusts.

Lieberose Heide - the „desert“ of BrandenburgMoss - lichens biocrustsLieberose Heide - the „desert“ of Brandenburg „Hühnerwasser“ REM picture biological soil crustInitial green-algae biocrust on temperate sand dunesMoss- and sooil lichens biocrustArid sand dunes covered by biocrusts - Nizzana, Israel

Influence of climate on physiological activity and small-scale development of biological soil crusts on initial soils in Brandenburg

The successional development of biocrusts communities and the resulting spatiotemporal heterogeneity of biocrust patches in the landscape depend on various abiotic factors e.g. surface stability, soil chemistry, microclimate and surface wetness. Aim of our research is to link physiological processes with the development of spatial pattern of biocrusts in relation to environmental boundary conditions. 

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Spatial and temporal variations of photosynthesis of biocrusts 

Beside microclimatic conditions, also water holding capacity or soil chemical properties led to the formation of spatial patterns and different biocrust types on the landscape level. For evaluation of biocrust functions, the connection of photosynthetic activity in relation to various spatial distribution pattern and biocrust types is necessary. 

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Development of biocrusts at restored post-mining sites in Brandenburg 

Following surface disturbance, quaternary sands are the basic substrate for soil development in the Lusa- tian reclamation area. These substrates mostly contain few organic matter and, hence, are nutrient poor. Accumulation of soil carbon is an important factor for ecosystem development, where biological soil crusts initially influence soil processes and promote ecosystem succession. 

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Publications: papers, book chapters, conference papers

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