The Biocrust Conundrum

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High Country News recently published an article titled, “The biocrust conundrum”. The piece focuses on the recently published paper, “Albedo feedbacks to future climate via climate change impacts on dryland biocrusts”.

The High Country News piece discusses soil biological crust (biocrusts) communities in the dry Southwest and the main results of the “Albedo feedbacks to future climate via climate change impacts on dryland biocrusts” paper. The paper’s lead author, William (Austin) Rutherford was with the SBSC and is now with the University of Arizona. The other co-authors are Scott Ferrenberg, Jayne Belnap, and Sasha Reed from the SBSC, and Thomas Painter, Gregory Okin (both from University of California, Los Angeles), and Cody Flag (National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)).

One of the main results of the paper is that members of biocrusts communities change over time as conditions get warmer and drier. Specifically, the darker colored members of the biocrust community, namely mosses, lichens, and darker colored cyanobacteria, die off and are replaced by lighter colored cyanobacteria. The lighter colored biocrust community reflects much of the sun’s energy away from the soil surface, and this can have consequences for future climates.  In addition Scott Ferrenberg and Austin Rutherford being interviewed, Matt Bowker from Northern Arizona University was also interviewed. Sasha Reed’s work on the causes and consequences of moss mortality was also mentioned in the article.

The link to the High Country News Article is here: http://www.hcn.org/articles/a-bizarre-biocrust-discovery.

The link to the paper, ““Albedo feedbacks to future climate via climate change impacts on dryland biocrusts”, is here: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep44188.

The link to the moss mortality paper is here: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n10/full/nclimate1596.html.

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