Biological soil crusts: An organizing principle in dryland ecosystems (aka: the role of biocrusts in arid land hydrology)

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Abstract

Biocrusts exert a strong influence on hydrological processes in drylands by modifying numerous soil properties that affect water retention and movement in soils. Yet, their role in these processes is not clearly understood due to the large number of factors that act simultaneously and can mask the biocrust effect. The influence of biocrusts on soil hydrology depends on biocrust intrinsic characteristics such as cover, composition, and external morphology, which differ greatly among climate regimes, but also on external factors as soil type, topography and vegetation distribution patterns, as well as interactions among these factors. This chapter reviews the most recent literature published on the role of biocrusts in infiltration and runoff, soil moisture, evaporation and non-rainfall water inputs (fog, dew, water absorption), in an attempt to elucidate the key factors that explain how biocrusts affect land hydrology. In addition to the crust type and site characteristics, recent studies point to the crucial importance of the type of rainfall and the spatial scale at which biocrust effects are analyzed to understand their role in hydrological processes. Future studies need to consider the temporal and spatial scale investigated to obtain more accurate generalizations on the role of biocrusts in land hydrology.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Biological soil crusts: An organizing principle in dryland ecosystems (aka: the role of biocrusts in arid land hydrology)
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-30214-0_17
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer International Publishing
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 26 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Ecological studies
First page 321
Last page 346
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N