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!).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ecological Society of America Meeting (August 5-10 2012, Portland, Oregon) : Biological soil crusts: their diversity, functional ecology and management

This is the organized oral session at ESA that I mentioned in previous posts, exact data TBA.

Principal Organizer: Bettina Weber
Co-organizer: Jayne Belnap

1.    Hugo Beraldi, Arizona State University, USA
Title: “Biological Soil Crusts beyond the Phanerozoic”
2.    Prof. Dr. Burkhard Büdel, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany
Title: “Diversity levels of biological soil crusts: the structural-, photoautotrophic species-, and the photosynthetic type-level”
3.    Nicole Pietrasiak, University of California, USA
Topic: The effects of geomorphology and soil properties on crust abundance and distribution
4.    Prof. Dr. Ferran Garcia-Pichel, Arizona State University, USA (not sure yet)
Topic: The nitrogen cycle of biological soil crusts: who’s doing what where, and why it matters
5.    Prof. Dr. Leopoldo Sancho, Universidad Complutense, Spain
Title: “Long-term measurements of lichen activity and growth in warm and cold deserts”
6.    Dr. Bettina Weber, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany
Title: “Biological crusts: a forgotten component of the global carbon cycle?”
7.    Yunge Zhao, Soil and Water Institute, Xian, China
Title: “Using mosses to restore ecosystem function to the Loess Plateau, China”
8.    Matthew Bowker, US Geological Survey, USA
Title: “Biological soil crusts as a model system in community and landscape ecology”

It has only recently been recognized that biological soil crusts (BSC) are a critical component of dryland ecosystems, contributing to the diversity, functionality and nutrient cycling of these regions worldwide.
Formed by cyanobacteria, algae, lichens, fungi and bacteria in varying proportions, BSC grow within the uppermost millimeters of the soil, fulfilling a variety of ecosystem services. With their filaments BSC organisms glue together soil particles, thus effectively preventing erosion by both wind and water. BSC organisms in general and nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria in particular, add nutrients to nutrient-poor desert soils, thus promoting the establishment and growth of vascular plants. Their relevance and impact on global carbon and nitrogen cycles is just starting to be considered.
During the last decade, studies on BSC have intensified and diversified, creating a unique and growing research community. Meanwhile, the importance of BSC is also being highlighted by public forums. Last year, a meeting on BSC demonstrated the relevance of topics currently being explored by the research community. As many of these topics are essential to understanding the structure and function of dryland ecosystems, we realized that this research should be presented to the larger scientific community.
Our proposed symposium will include both broad overviews as well as case studies that address the various aspects of BSC. After some introductory remarks, the session will start out with a description of BSC organisms and their ecology in historic times. The present biodiversity of photoautotrophic organisms and fungi, as determined by classical taxonomic and molecular techniques will be illustrated and the abiotic controls on their distribution patterns will be discussed. The roles and relevance of BSC in local and global carbon and nitrogen cycles, which currently form one major research issue, will be highlighted in the following talks. Employment of BSC as model systems in community and landscape ecology will be discussed. Due to their soil stabilization and nutrient input, BSC organisms have been successfully utilized in restoration projects, which will be presented. The long-term effects of human activities (like pesticides) will be explained and finally, the utilization of remote sensing techniques for the mapping and monitoring of BSC distribution patterns will be discussed.
The session is designed to provide an overall synthesis covering all major current BSC research topics at high scientific quality.

Canyon Country Science Symposium, Moab, Utah, March 12-14 2012

Nichole Barger had organized this region-specific conference. This is not devoted to biocrusts, but because it is centered around the "crust capitol" of SE Utah it will feature a strong presence of biocrust research and researchers. There will be some good material on dust too.Alas, the crusts will only be supporting cast in my talk, but the conference lineup looks pretty good.

Canyon Country Science Symposium
March 12-14, 2012
Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab, Utah
Monday, March 12th
Afternoon of the 12th, out of town symposium participants arrive at the lodge.

2:00-5:00 pm Canyonlands Research Center, Science and Management Advisory Council
6:00-6:30pm Mixer and happy hour at the lodge
6:30- 8:00 Group dinner*
Tuesday, March 13th
Oral presentations
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:15 Poster session
2:15-5:00 Oral presentations
6:00-8:00 Dinner
Wednesday, March 14th
9:00-11:30 Oral presentations
11:30-12:00 Check out and pick up sack lunches
12:00-2:00 Field trip to Belnap research sites

Tuesday, March 13th
Morning Session

9:00-9:30 To be announced, BLM, NPS, and USFS Research to support management needs in Canyon Country: A BLM, NPS, and USFS perspective
9:30-9:45 Jayne Belnap, USGS, Moab Rethinking the critical zone: in deserts, it’s the small things that count
10:00-10:15 Cheryl Kuske, Los Alamos Nat’l Lab Biocrust bacterial community responses to increased
temperature, altered precipitation and physical disturbance
10:15-10:30 Trent Northen, Lawrence Berkeley Labs Metabolic dynamics of Colorado Plateau Biological Soil Crusts
10:30-10:45 Matt Bowker, USGS, Flagstaff Assessing the provisioning of multiple ecosystem services
in semi-arid rangelands
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-11:15 Troy Wood, USGS, Flagstaff Population genetic structure in three foundational grassland
species: implications for restoration in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
11:15-11:30 Matt Miller, USGS, Moab Assessing watershed condition in streams and rivers of the semi-arid Colorado Plateau: An example of aquatic macroinvertebrates as indicators of stream habitat conditions
11:30-11:45 Rebecca Weissinger, NPS, Moab Springs monitoring in Northern Colorado Plateau Network
national park units
11:45-12:00 Susanna Pearlstein, University of Arizona Monitoring vegetation change on three rivers in the western United States
12:00-1:00 Lunch Break

Tuesday, March 13th
 Afternoon Session

1:00-2:15 Poster Session See presenters below
2:15-2:30 Jason Neff, CU-Boulder The causes of increasing dust storm frequency over the past decade and the impacts of dust on air quality in SE Utah
2:30-2:45 Cody Flagg CU-Boulder Spatial and Temporal Variability of Fugitive Dust Flux from Colorado Plateau Landscapes
2:45-3:00 Mark Brunson, USU Dust, crust, plants and people: Testing a model of cross-scale human-nature interactions for the Colorado Plateau
3:00-3:15 Scott Hoffman, USU Road dust emissions and suppression and effects of dust on vegetation in Arches Nat'l Park
3:15-3:30 Marith Reheis, USGS, Denver Seasonal Deposition Rates and Compositions of Aeolian Dust in the Canyonlands Area
3:30-3:45 Rich Reynolds, USGS, Denver Nutrients from atmospheric mineral dust across the Colorado Plateau
3:45-4:00 Break
4:00-4:15 Mike Duniway, USGS, Moab Shallow soils, roots in rocks, and plant-water availability: Implication for Colorado Plateau ecohydrology
4:15-4:30 Sasha Reed, USGS, Moab Ecosystem consequences of nitrogen deposition in the Four Corners region, USA
4:30-4:45 Tim Wertin, USGS, Moab Increased temperature negatively affects carbon assimilation and growth of Achantherum hymenoides bunchgrass
4:45-5:00 Jane Zelikova, USGS,Mendenhall Livestock grazing on the Colorado Plateau: Impacts for above and belowground carbon stocks.

Tuesday, March 13th, Afternoon Poster Session

Harland Goldstein, USGS, Denver Loess deposits in the Hatch Point-Canyon Rims area: physical characteristics and correlation to aeolian and fluvial records in southeastern Utah
Leah Lewis, USU Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) occupancy: A measure of habitat quality and productivity in canyon habitats
Matt Lewis, USU Roads impact the reproduction of an endangered Utah endemic shrub.
Amy Tendick, NPS Canyonlands National Park Vegetation Map and Geodatabase: A Tool for Future Research in the Park
Frank Urban, USGS, Denver Local and Regional Airborne Dust in the Canyonlands Region: Integrated Analysis of Digital Imagery, Total Suspended Particulate, and Meteorological Data
Seth Munson, USGS, Denver Responses of wind erosion to climate-induced vegetation changes on the Colorado Plateau

Wednesday, March 14th
Matt Van Scoyoc, USU Ecosystem Health Assessments on the Monticello Ranger District
9:15-9:30 Anne Brasher, BLM Integrated Assessment of the Impacts of Vehicle Use in Salt Creek Watershed,Canyonlands National park
9:30-9:45 Tim Graham, Ant community structure in Salt Creek, Canyonlands National park, Utah: Changes at 4 sites in June Samples 2000-2007
9:45-10:00 Wright Robinson Grand County Biocontrol with the Tamarisk Beetle (Diorhabda carinulata):
abundance, movements, and impacts on tamarisk in Grand County, Utah, 2004–2011
10:00-10:15 Break
10:15-10:30 Dana Witwicki NPS, Moab Long-term ecological monitoring to detect trends in northern
Colorado Plateau uplands
10:30-10:45 Miranda Redmond, CU-Boulder The influence of climate on annual variations in cone production among Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis)
10:45-11:00 Heidi Guenther, CU-Boulder Fuels treatments effects on plant communities in upland pinyon-juniper woodlands
11:00-11:30 Nichole Barger and Mark Miller, CU-Boulder Group discussion: Facilitating knowledge exchange betweenscience and management

Just to back up my statement about Utahs Canyon Country being the "crust capitol", here's some photographic evidence. The crusts are the microcanyonlands within the macrocanyonlands (Photo: Dr. Charlie Schelz, National Park Service)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Journal of Ecology Blog/ ESA

Oh hi, it's me, your prodigal blogger. Some news nuggets:

1. Some of our work, led by Fernando Maestre, is being highlighted in the Journal of Ecology Blog. We try to determine which is most important for ecosystem function: species richness, evenness, species composition, or spatial aggregation. The answer is richness and composition for the most part, and spatial pattern once in a while. Evenness has little effect in and of itself, but can have interactive effects with the other factors. It is another work derived from Andrea Castillo's constructed crust microcosms, mentioned in a previous post. Check out the Journal of Ecology blog here.

(Just in case you didn't know how interesting crusts are here's one of F's photos from the blog post)

I think this trend of scientific journals maintaining blogs is really cool. What better way to bring the science to the people for free! Not to mention demystifying it along the way. Right now i think Oikos is doing the best job (check them out in the blogroll), mostly because of one editor who is a frequent contributor. It looks like right now, the fledgling J. Ecology blog is mostly highlighting papers that they publish, and I guess we'll see how it evolves. It looks promising.

2. Bettina Weber & Jayne Belnap's proposal to ESA (August, Portland, Oregon) was accepted as an organized oral session rather than a symposium. So, "There will be crusts" (spoken in ominous voice) at ESA. I will post the lineup and that of the EGU meetings (April, Vienna, Austria) when I have them.