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.

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