Experiments to Help Restore Mosses in Arid Lands

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Biological soil crusts are beneficial to arid ecosystems and occupy bare ground, deterring establishment of invasive annual grasses.

To investigate the restoration potential of mosses, an important component of biological soil crusts, researchers collected samples of two moss species common to the Great Basin from both warm-dry environments and cool-moist settings, then inoculated samples into a common warm-dry site. They also tested whether irrigation and the use of jute netting to stabilize mosses affected moss survival and cover. Both moss species increased in cover over the winter, aided by jute netting. The warm-dry mosses showed higher percent cover than the cool-moist moss samples. Results show that higher moss cover can be achieved with the addition of organic matter via jute nets, and when moss originates from sites with a climate that is similar to that of the restoration site. These results could help inform efforts to restore degraded arid lands.


Condon, L.A., Pyke, D.A., 2016, Filling the interspace—restoring arid land mosses- source populations, organic matter, and overwintering govern success: Ecology and Evolution, v. 6, p. 7623–7632, https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2448.

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