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.
Additional publication details
|Publication type||Book chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Title||Biocrusts in the context of global change|
|Contributing office(s)||Southwest Biological Science Center|
|Larger Work Type||Book|
|Larger Work Title||Biological soil crusts: An organizing principle in drylands|