Biocrusts in the context of global change

By: , and 



A wide range of studies show global environmental change will profoundly affect the structure, function, and dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems. The research synthesized here underscores that biocrust communities are also likely to respond significantly to global change drivers, with a large potential for modification to their abundance, composition, and function. We examine how elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, climate change (increased temperature and altered precipitation), and nitrogen deposition affect biocrusts and the ecosystems they inhabit. We integrate experimental and observational data, as well as physiological, community ecology, and biogeochemical perspectives. Taken together, these data highlight the potential for biocrust organisms to respond dramatically to environmental change and show how changes to biocrust community composition translate into effects on ecosystem function (e.g., carbon and nutrient cycling, soil stability, energy balance). Due to the importance of biocrusts in regulating dryland ecosystem processes and the potential for large modifications to biocrust communities, an improved understanding and predictive capacity regarding biocrust responses to environmental change are of scientific and societal relevance.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Biocrusts in the context of global change
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-30214-0_22
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 26 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Biological soil crusts: An organizing principle in drylands
First page 451
Last page 476
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