A networking resource devoted to biological soil crusts and the researchers who study them. We will provide a means for international scientists to communicate, share their research, share important news and announcements, ask questions and find collaborators. We will also provide a space for informal writing on research, opinion, and ideas (now seeking posters!).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Recent literature on crusts

 Here's a couple papers that have landed in my inbox in the last few days:
 Sohrabi, M., Stenroos, S, Högnabba, F, Nordin, A., Owe-Larsson. 2011. Aspicilia rogeri sp. nov. (Megasporaceae) and other allied vagrant species in North America. Bryologist 114:178-189.

This one is a taxonomic paper passed on to me by Roger Rosentreter. Basically what the authors find is that what we thought was Aspicilia fruticulosa in North America, is actually a new taxon. The best thing about it is that it is named after Roger, Aspicilia rogeri. I like the familiarity of using his first name...now we have our friend Roger the human, and our new friend Roger the lichen. After all his work over the years on this fascinating and frustrating genus...he deserves it. The authors have some additional photos here.

Read, C.F., Duncan,D.H., Vesk, P.A., Elith, J. 2011. Surprisingly fast recovery of biological soil crusts following livestock removal in southern Australia. Journal of Vegetation Science Doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2011.01296.x

Cassia Read follows up one of the first landscape ecology studies of biocrusts with this one about passive recovery of crust after exclusion of livestock. It uses an unusually good gradient of time since disturbance. Also notable is that the more we collectively study this topic the more we find that recovery rates differ from place to place, as well as successional sequences.

Castillo-Monroy, A.P., Maestre, F.T., Rey, A., Soliveres, S., Garcia-Palacios, P. 2011. Biological soil crust microsites are the main contributor to soil respiration in a semiarid ecosystem. 
DOI: 10.1007/s10021-011-9449-3

The journal Ecosystems is turning out to be fertile ground for crust research. On a gyspiferous area with well developed crusts, the authors calculate that the biocrust is associated with about 40% of the soil respiration from the site.

Of course one reason I created this blog was to help disseminate my own research. I switched jobs in the last year so I've been sending out less stuff in the transition, but my collaborators have kept me looking good. Here's a few from 2011 and the latter part of 2010:

García-Palacios, P., Bowker, M.A., Maestre, F.T., Soliveres, S., Valladares, F, Papadopoulos, J., Escudero, A. 2011. Ecosystem development in roadside grasslands: biotic control, plant–soil interactions and dispersal limitations. Ecological Applications in press.

Pablo worked really hard for this one. Developing the structural equation model in this paper was like fighting the hydra...we'd solve one problem and create 2 more. But in the end it looks good, congratulations Pablo.

Miller, M.E., Belote, R.T., Bowker, M.A., Garman, S.L. 2011. Alternative states of a semiarid grassland ecosystem: Implications for erosion susceptibility, ecosystem services and management. Ecosphere 2 A55.

Back to the Colorado Plateau....this is part of my new job. One of my projects is related to state-and-transition models. In this paper we actually define an ecosystem state partially by the dominance by biological crusts.

Maestre, F.T., Bowker, M.A., Cantón, Y., Castillo-Monroy, A.P., Cortina, J., Escolar, C., Escudero, A., Lázaro, R. Martínez, I. 2011. Ecology and functional roles of biological soil crusts in semi-arid ecosystems of Spain. Journal of Arid Environments in press.

This is a review of all the varied crust research being conducted in Spain. It will appear in a special issue of Journal of Arid Environments devoted to Spain's semi-arid zone.

Bowker, M.A., Mau, R.L., Maestre, F.T., Escolar, C., Castillo, A.P. 2011. Functional profiles reveal unique ecological roles of various biological soil crust organisms. Functional Ecology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2011.01835.x.

In this paper we explore the simple idea of tabulating biocrust species and the ecosystem functions that the species tends to correlate with. We focused on the Spanish species. If you do this, you find little redundancy, most of the common species have a unique suite of functional effects. 

Castillo-Monroy, A.P., Bowker, M.A., Maestre, F.T., Rodríguez-Echeverría, S., Martinez, I., Barraza-Zepeda, C.E., Escolar, C. 2011. Relationships between biological soil crust, bacterial diversity and abundance and ecosystem functioning: Insights from a semi-arid Mediterranean environment. Journal of Vegetation Science 1:165-174.

Here we added some data on the microbial community to an existing study, and posed the question "How much of apparent crust function is actually mediated by their effects on soil microbiota?" At least in this site, the answer seems to be not much. This was part of Andrea's dissertation.

Eldridge, D.J., Bowker, M.A., Maestre, F.T., Alonso, P., Mau, R.L., Papadopoulos, J., and Escudero, A. 2010. Interactive effects of three ecosystem engineers on infiltration in a semi-arid mediterranean grassland. Ecosystems 13: 499-510.

I'm really happy with this study, and it's mostly thanks to Dave Eldridge. I hope to repay him with an equally good study this month in Australia. We studied the effects of crusts, rabbits and tussock grasses on infiltration in a regression-type design. The tussock grasses are infiltration sites (that was well known already). The rabbits have no direct effect, but they can nullify the crust effect. The crust effect can be positive, if mosses dominate, or negative if lichens dominate. All in all, a very cool system studied as an intact system, rather than breaking it into it's parts.

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