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Biological soil crusts in ecological restoration: Emerging research and perspectives

May 14, 2020

Drylands encompass over 40% of terrestrial ecosystems and face significant anthropogenic degradation causing a loss of ecosystem integrity, services, and deterioration of social‐ecological systems. To combat this degradation, some dryland restoration efforts have focused on the use of biological soil crusts (biocrusts): complex communities of cyanobacteria, algae, lichens, bryophytes, and other organisms living in association with the top millimeters of soil. Biocrusts are common in many ecosystems and especially drylands. They perform a suite of ecosystem functions: stabilizing soil surfaces to prevent erosion, contributing carbon through photosynthesis, fixing nitrogen, and mediating the hydrological cycle in drylands. Biocrusts have emerged as a potential tool in restoration; developing methods to implement effective biocrust restoration has the potential to return many ecosystem functions and services. Although culture‐based approaches have allowed researchers to learn about the biology, physiology, and cultivation of biocrusts, transferring this knowledge to field implementation has been more challenging. A large amount of research has amassed to improve our understanding of biocrust restoration, leaving us at an opportune time to learn from one another and to join approaches for maximum efficacy. The articles in this special issue improve the state of our current knowledge in biocrust restoration, highlighting efforts to effectively restore biocrusts through a variety of different ecosystems, across scales and utilizing a variety of lab and field methods. This collective work provides a useful resource for the scientific community as well as land managers.

Publication Year 2020
Title Biological soil crusts in ecological restoration: Emerging research and perspectives
DOI 10.1111/rec.13201
Authors Anita Antoninka, Akasha M. Faist, Emilio Rodriguez-Caballero, Kristina E Young, V Bala Chaudhary, Lea A. Condon, David A. Pyke
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Restoration Ecology
Index ID 70213698
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center; John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis