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!).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

TerraDerm website launch

1. Jim Sears & Bharath Prithiviraj have recently launched a website about their TerraDerm concept. TerraDerm is a nonprofit working on making a cyanobacterial crust inoculum to sink carbon and reverse desertification in drylands. I've added it to the resources links to the right.

2. I recently noticed Fernando Maestre added a blog to his website about his dryland ecology research. There is content in Spanish and English dealing with community and ecosystem ecology of plants and biocrusts. I've added it to the blogroll.

3. Kevin of "Nature's Internet: a layman's guide to installation and maintenance", my nominee for best blog title ever, has a post up for lay audiences about biocrusts and mycorrhizas. Check it out here. I've also added this blog to the blogroll.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Biocrust researcher directory is back!

After accidentally deleting it a while back, I'm reconstructing the biocrust researcher directory listed on the right. I'm basically just adding people from recent conferences or whoever pops to mind in no particular order. I'm adding what appears to be the best link from a simple Google search.

So, i don't have unlimited time to think of all the crust researchers, then go out and find their best webpage. You could help me. If you're listed but I don't have the best webpage linked, leave me a comment. Also feel free to leave a comment with the websites of biocrust researchers you know that I haven't listed yet. I'm especially in need of good links for our Chinese colleagues who do so much of the crust research out there right now. But basically, I'll list anyone who ever did a biocrust research project including government researchers, professors, graduate students, etc.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Second International Workshop on Biological Soil Crust: Biological Soil Crusts in a Changing World

See below the first circular on the international biocrust meeting, hot off the presses from Fernando Maestre & Leopoldo Sancho:

We are pleased to announce the Second International Workshop on Biological Soil Crusts, which follows the successful I Workshop celebrated in Germany in 2010. This workshop is devoted to disseminate recent advances in our knowledge of the ecology of biological soil crusts (BSCs) and their importance as a key driver of ecosystem structure and functioning.

The main objective of this Workshop is to trigger an exchange of ideas and results, to discuss possible new theories/approaches, and to provide a forum to facilitate the collaboration among the growing international community of scientists working with BSCs.

This international meeting will take place at the Faculty of Pharmacy, The Complutense University, Madrid, Spain, between 10th and 13rd of June, 2013. The meeting will cover any aspect related to BSCs, including the following topics:
• Diversity, ecology and biogeography of BSCs
• Mapping, monitoring and management of BSCs
• Role of BSCs in ecosystems
• Taxonomy of BSC constituents
• Disturbance and restoration of BSCs
• Interaction between BSCs and vascular plant vegetation
• Effects of global environmental change on BSCs

The meeting will include invited plenary talks, contributed oral sessions, poster sessions, a field trip and some open, informal sessions to facilitate the exchange of ideas and protocols on key issues surrounding BSC ecology.

The Complutense University (http://portal.ucm.es/en/web/en-ucm) is one of the largest Universities in Spain. Located in the historic Ciudad Universitaria/Moncloa Campus, it is easily accessible from anywhere in Madrid from Metro and Bus. The venue of the meeting (Faculty of Pharmacy) is just 20 m from a metro station.

Madrid, the Spanish capital, is a vibrant city with world class museums, monuments, and restaurants, and with a famous night and cultural life. It can be easily reached by plane from anywhere in the world, and has activities of interest for anyone (see http://www.esmadrid.com/en/portal.do for touristic information and for a schedule of cultural events).

Scientific committee (preliminary)
Jayne Belnap, United States Geological Service (USA)
Matthew A. Bowker, Northern Arizona University (USA)
Burkhard Büdel, University of Kaiserslautern (Germany)
David Eldridge, University of New South Wales (Australia)
Fernando T. Maestre, Rey Juan Carlos University (Spain)
Leopoldo G. Sancho, Complutense University (Spain)
Eli Zaady, Ministry of Agriculture (Israel)

Local organizing committee
Beatriz Gozalo, Rey Juan Carlos University
Allan Green, Complutense University
Fernando T. Maestre, Rey Juan Carlos University
José Raggio, Complutense University
Victoria Ochoa, Rey Juan Carlos University
Ana Pintado, Complutense University
Mª Dolores Puche, Rey Juan Carlos University
Leopoldo G. Sancho, Complutense University

Important dates
September 2012: second circular containing the registration costs, travel information and deadlines for sending the abstracts. The website of the Workshop will also be alive in September 2012.

We hope to see all you at Madrid in 2013!

Fernando T. Maestre (fernando.maestre@urjc.es) and Leopoldo G. Sancho (sancholg@farm.ucm.es)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Biological soil crusts: Ecology & Management - May 1-3, Boise, Idaho

I was recently in Boise (May 1-3), Idaho to co-teach "Biological soil crusts: Ecology and Management" with Roger Rosentreter. This is a perennial offering usually co-taught by Roger & Jayne Belnap, which happens in Boise, Moab, or other locations as demand requires. I may try and cycle into the teaching rotation more often. The participants are usually land managers and agency scientists, but it is open to the public.

Out class was mostly BLM people (ecologists, range conservationists and fire rehab people from as far away as Las Vegas, but mostly locals). We also had a private consultant, some Forest Service folks and a graduate student, among others. Overall, an excellent group that was very interested and contributed quite a bit to good discussion. I don't know where next years edition will be, but will post it when I know.

Roger was on fire, and should seriously consider a second career as a standup comedian. Overall he was in good form, as was his wife Anne, their turtle and tortoise friends, and their amazing native plants garden. I got some great photos, helped out by perfect overcast sky lighting. 

On our field site recon trip. Barry Kaminsky (L) and Roger Rosentreter (R) posing with a bucket o' crust we collected for class demos. Barry is currently working for Roger, but is an accomplished lichenologist that is looking for grad school opportunities, and would like to go in a more ecological direction.

Acarospora schleicheri...the "prom queen" of Great Basin crusts. Look at me! Look at me!

Our field trip site was close to the rim of the Snake River Gorge. Not so bad on the eyes.

Syntrichia ruralis, "twisted moss", probably accounting for half the crust biomass out there. I'm very impressed with the macro function on my cheap camera!

Picture says it all.

Ok, a little explanation. After collecting and reconn'ing we visited an exclosure in a winterfat vegetation type. This thing has been ungrazed for decades. Outside the exclosure didn't look all that bad, but inside was amazing! Under most of the winterfat shrubs there were these amazing mounds of Syntrichia that could swallow a hand. (I know because I now have a hook at the end of one arm). This one has numerous grass seedlings coming out of it. The carbon storage crowd is not thinking much about rangelands as C sinks, because rangelands are not carbon intense. But...there is a ton of acreage out there. Now, I don't buy the idea that, e.g., the Mojave Desert, is ever going to have all that much value for its C storage, but these cold winter rangelands could sink some serious C in the form of my old friend Syntrichia.

P.S. If you like any of these crust photos and want to use them, you may, just ask me first and credit this blog.