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!).

Friday, April 20, 2012

New website featuring biological crusts

Dr. Maik Veste recently wrote me to let me know about his updated website on ecophysiology of biocrusts and dryland plants. It features photos from such disparate locations as Denmark, Germany, Israel and South Africa. There is also quite alot of content including papers, conference abstracts and a few posters. Find the website here.

Biocrusts on coastal dunes of Denmark. Photo: Veste, www.drylandresearch.de


  1. Funny thing is I ran across this site before yours and really enjoy it. Glad someone puts together information on a subject that the majority of mankind give little attention or care to.

    One question. Is there any research done about any connections to bio-crust and cloud formation ? This shouldn't be looked upon as anything far fetched. Plankton and other tiny miroscopic ocean plants give off aerosols which aid in this process over oceans. The bio-crustal of environmental habitat comparisons in the literature are made between United States southwestern deserts as having life as a result of bio-crusts, but the reasons the Sahara is so devoid of life is the lack of large populations or complete absence of them altogether. The Sahara also gets does not for the most part get any rain. The southwest does however and desert plant aerosol emissions may be key to the difference.

    I already know that Creosote Bush gives off various climate influencing, isoprenes or other organic volatile compound emessions during the monsoonal moisture season. Along with other desert plants this fascilitates cloud formation and any rainfall they may receive diring the season. This phenomena is more pronounced and intense during summertime than winter.

    Here's an example of what I'm talking about. This paper acknowledges this subject but also admits that not enough research has been done, but should be.

    Volatile organic compound emissions from Larrea tridentata

    Hope this helps what direction I'm looking at. Is there a climate connection through aerosol releases by these organisms as well ? I also have to tell you however that even without reading the literature, these observations of the atmosphere permeating with the specific heavy fragrances & aroma of Creosote and other plants was always a noticable experience long before the rain even got there. I'm certainly curious as to what triggers it. If true, then not just more research, but actual hands-on practical applications need to be made soon given all the dire climate predictions by other scientists.

    Thanks - Kevin

  2. Hi Kevin,

    I am not aware of any research on VOCs from crusts influencing local rainfall patterns. The closest thing I've run across in a paper from China which shows that dew deposition is enhanced as biocrusts become more developed (Jing et al. 2009. J. Hydrology 379:220-228.

    There is some papers out there on VOCs from lichens, but these are mostly studying high biomass boreal "carpets".-