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Maximizing establishment and survivorship of field-collected and greenhouse-cultivated biocrusts in a semi-cold desert

Plant and Soil

By:
, , , , , and
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-017-3300-3

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Abstract

Aims

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are soil-surface communities in drylands, dominated by cyanobacteria, mosses, and lichens. They provide key ecosystem functions by increasing soil stability and influencing soil hydrologic, nutrient, and carbon cycles. Because of this, methods to reestablish biocrusts in damaged drylands are needed. Here we test the reintroduction of field-collected vs. greenhouse-cultured biocrusts for rehabilitation.

Methods

We collected biocrusts for 1) direct reapplication, and 2) artificial cultivation under varying hydration regimes. We added field-collected and cultivated biocrusts (with and without hardening treatments) to bare field plots and monitored establishment.

Results

Both field-collected and cultivated cyanobacteria increased cover dramatically during the experimental period. Cultivated biocrusts established more rapidly than field-collected biocrusts, attaining ~82% cover in only one year, but addition of field-collected biocrusts led to higher species richness, biomass (as assessed by chlorophyll a) and level of development. Mosses and lichens did not establish well in either case, but late successional cover was affected by hardening and culture conditions.

Conclusions

This study provides further evidence that it is possible to culture biocrust components from later successional materials and reestablish cultured organisms in the field. However, more research is needed into effective reclamation techniques.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Maximizing establishment and survivorship of field-collected and greenhouse-cultivated biocrusts in a semi-cold desert
Series title:
Plant and Soil
DOI:
10.1007/s11104-017-3300-3
Edition:
Online First
Year Published:
2017
Language:
English
Publisher:
Springer
Contributing office(s):
Southwest Biological Science Center