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Natural recovery of biological soil crusts after disturbance

May 22, 2016

Natural recovery of biological soil crusts (biocrusts) is influenced by a number of different parameters, such as climate, soil conditions, the severity of disturbance, and the timing of disturbance relative to the climatic conditions. In recent studies, it has been shown that recovery is often not linear, but a highly dynamic process directly influenced by non-linear external parameters as extraordinary climatic conditions (e.g., particularly dry or wet year). Natural recovery often follows a general succession pattern, starting out with cyanobacteria and algae, which is then followed by lichens and bryophytes at a later stage. However, this general sequence can be altered by parameters like dust deposition, fire effects, and special climatic conditions as in fog deserts and under mesic climates. Recent studies have proposed that under favorable, stable soil conditions, the initial soil-stabilizing cyanobacteria-dominated succession stages may be omitted and moss-dominated biocrusts can develop in the initial phases of biocrust development. During natural recovery of biocrusts, soil properties change, e.g., soil nutrient and organic matter contents increase. Also, silt and clay contents of encrusted soils increase with biocrust maturity, which may be caused by two mechanisms, i.e. entrapment of fine soil particles by biocrusts and the new formation of smaller particles by weathering of the existing substrate.

Publication Year 2016
Title Natural recovery of biological soil crusts after disturbance
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-30214-0_23
Authors Bettina Weber, Matthew A. Bowker, Yuanming Zhang, Jayne Belnap
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70176222
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center