Evidence for micronutrient limitation of biological soil crusts: Importance to arid-lands restoration

Matthew A Bowker, Jayne Belnap, Diane W. Davidson, Susan L. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Desertification is a global problem, costly to national economies and human societies. Restoration of biological soil crusts (BSCs) may have an important role to play in the reversal of desertification due to their ability to decrease erosion and enhance soil fertility. To determine if there is evidence that lower fertility may hinder BSC recolonization, we investigated the hypothesis that BSC abundance is driven by soil nutrient concentrations. At a regional scale (north and central Colorado Plateau, USA), moss and lichen cover and richness are correlated with a complex water-nutrient availability gradient and have approximately six-fold higher cover and approximately two-fold higher species richness on sandy soils than on shale-derived soils. At a microscale, mosses and lichens are overrepresented in microhabitats under the north sides of shrub canopies, where water and nutrients are more available. At two spatial scales, and at the individual species and community levels, our data are consistent with the hypothesis that distributions of BSC organisms are determined largely by soil fertility. The micronutrients Mn and Zn figured prominently and consistently in the various analyses, strongly suggesting that these elements are previously unstudied limiting factors in BSC development. Structural-equation modeling of our data is most consistent with the hypothesis of causal relationships between the availability of micronutrients and the abundance of the two major nitrogen (N) fixers of BSCs. Specifically, higher Mn availability may determine greater Collema tenax abundance, and both Mn and Zn may limit Collema coccophorum; alternative causal hypotheses were less consistent with the data. We propose experimental trials of micronutrient addition to promote the restoration of BSC function on disturbed lands. Arid lands, where BSCs are most prevalent, cover ∼40% of the terrestrial surface of the earth; thus the information gathered in this study is potentially useful in many places worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1941-1951
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Applications
Volume15
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2005

Fingerprint

soil crust
trace element
desertification
lichen
soil fertility
moss
fold
land restoration
arid land
national economy
recolonization
nutrient availability
soil nutrient
microhabitat
sandy soil
limiting factor
fertility
shale
shrub
species richness

Keywords

  • Collema
  • Cryptobiotic soils
  • Desertification
  • Lichens
  • Manganese
  • Micronutrient limitation
  • Mosses
  • Restoration
  • Semi-arid desert
  • Soil crusts and arid-land restoration
  • Soil nutrients
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Evidence for micronutrient limitation of biological soil crusts : Importance to arid-lands restoration. / Bowker, Matthew A; Belnap, Jayne; Davidson, Diane W.; Phillips, Susan L.

In: Ecological Applications, Vol. 15, No. 6, 12.2005, p. 1941-1951.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bowker, Matthew A ; Belnap, Jayne ; Davidson, Diane W. ; Phillips, Susan L. / Evidence for micronutrient limitation of biological soil crusts : Importance to arid-lands restoration. In: Ecological Applications. 2005 ; Vol. 15, No. 6. pp. 1941-1951.
@article{bd2fae06cfc548b1a54aa6bf8652169b,
title = "Evidence for micronutrient limitation of biological soil crusts: Importance to arid-lands restoration",
abstract = "Desertification is a global problem, costly to national economies and human societies. Restoration of biological soil crusts (BSCs) may have an important role to play in the reversal of desertification due to their ability to decrease erosion and enhance soil fertility. To determine if there is evidence that lower fertility may hinder BSC recolonization, we investigated the hypothesis that BSC abundance is driven by soil nutrient concentrations. At a regional scale (north and central Colorado Plateau, USA), moss and lichen cover and richness are correlated with a complex water-nutrient availability gradient and have approximately six-fold higher cover and approximately two-fold higher species richness on sandy soils than on shale-derived soils. At a microscale, mosses and lichens are overrepresented in microhabitats under the north sides of shrub canopies, where water and nutrients are more available. At two spatial scales, and at the individual species and community levels, our data are consistent with the hypothesis that distributions of BSC organisms are determined largely by soil fertility. The micronutrients Mn and Zn figured prominently and consistently in the various analyses, strongly suggesting that these elements are previously unstudied limiting factors in BSC development. Structural-equation modeling of our data is most consistent with the hypothesis of causal relationships between the availability of micronutrients and the abundance of the two major nitrogen (N) fixers of BSCs. Specifically, higher Mn availability may determine greater Collema tenax abundance, and both Mn and Zn may limit Collema coccophorum; alternative causal hypotheses were less consistent with the data. We propose experimental trials of micronutrient addition to promote the restoration of BSC function on disturbed lands. Arid lands, where BSCs are most prevalent, cover ∼40{\%} of the terrestrial surface of the earth; thus the information gathered in this study is potentially useful in many places worldwide.",
keywords = "Collema, Cryptobiotic soils, Desertification, Lichens, Manganese, Micronutrient limitation, Mosses, Restoration, Semi-arid desert, Soil crusts and arid-land restoration, Soil nutrients, Zinc",
author = "Bowker, {Matthew A} and Jayne Belnap and Davidson, {Diane W.} and Phillips, {Susan L.}",
year = "2005",
month = "12",
doi = "10.1890/04-1959",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "15",
pages = "1941--1951",
journal = "Ecological Appplications",
issn = "1051-0761",
publisher = "Ecological Society of America",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Evidence for micronutrient limitation of biological soil crusts

T2 - Importance to arid-lands restoration

AU - Bowker, Matthew A

AU - Belnap, Jayne

AU - Davidson, Diane W.

AU - Phillips, Susan L.

PY - 2005/12

Y1 - 2005/12

N2 - Desertification is a global problem, costly to national economies and human societies. Restoration of biological soil crusts (BSCs) may have an important role to play in the reversal of desertification due to their ability to decrease erosion and enhance soil fertility. To determine if there is evidence that lower fertility may hinder BSC recolonization, we investigated the hypothesis that BSC abundance is driven by soil nutrient concentrations. At a regional scale (north and central Colorado Plateau, USA), moss and lichen cover and richness are correlated with a complex water-nutrient availability gradient and have approximately six-fold higher cover and approximately two-fold higher species richness on sandy soils than on shale-derived soils. At a microscale, mosses and lichens are overrepresented in microhabitats under the north sides of shrub canopies, where water and nutrients are more available. At two spatial scales, and at the individual species and community levels, our data are consistent with the hypothesis that distributions of BSC organisms are determined largely by soil fertility. The micronutrients Mn and Zn figured prominently and consistently in the various analyses, strongly suggesting that these elements are previously unstudied limiting factors in BSC development. Structural-equation modeling of our data is most consistent with the hypothesis of causal relationships between the availability of micronutrients and the abundance of the two major nitrogen (N) fixers of BSCs. Specifically, higher Mn availability may determine greater Collema tenax abundance, and both Mn and Zn may limit Collema coccophorum; alternative causal hypotheses were less consistent with the data. We propose experimental trials of micronutrient addition to promote the restoration of BSC function on disturbed lands. Arid lands, where BSCs are most prevalent, cover ∼40% of the terrestrial surface of the earth; thus the information gathered in this study is potentially useful in many places worldwide.

AB - Desertification is a global problem, costly to national economies and human societies. Restoration of biological soil crusts (BSCs) may have an important role to play in the reversal of desertification due to their ability to decrease erosion and enhance soil fertility. To determine if there is evidence that lower fertility may hinder BSC recolonization, we investigated the hypothesis that BSC abundance is driven by soil nutrient concentrations. At a regional scale (north and central Colorado Plateau, USA), moss and lichen cover and richness are correlated with a complex water-nutrient availability gradient and have approximately six-fold higher cover and approximately two-fold higher species richness on sandy soils than on shale-derived soils. At a microscale, mosses and lichens are overrepresented in microhabitats under the north sides of shrub canopies, where water and nutrients are more available. At two spatial scales, and at the individual species and community levels, our data are consistent with the hypothesis that distributions of BSC organisms are determined largely by soil fertility. The micronutrients Mn and Zn figured prominently and consistently in the various analyses, strongly suggesting that these elements are previously unstudied limiting factors in BSC development. Structural-equation modeling of our data is most consistent with the hypothesis of causal relationships between the availability of micronutrients and the abundance of the two major nitrogen (N) fixers of BSCs. Specifically, higher Mn availability may determine greater Collema tenax abundance, and both Mn and Zn may limit Collema coccophorum; alternative causal hypotheses were less consistent with the data. We propose experimental trials of micronutrient addition to promote the restoration of BSC function on disturbed lands. Arid lands, where BSCs are most prevalent, cover ∼40% of the terrestrial surface of the earth; thus the information gathered in this study is potentially useful in many places worldwide.

KW - Collema

KW - Cryptobiotic soils

KW - Desertification

KW - Lichens

KW - Manganese

KW - Micronutrient limitation

KW - Mosses

KW - Restoration

KW - Semi-arid desert

KW - Soil crusts and arid-land restoration

KW - Soil nutrients

KW - Zinc

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=30944441416&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=30944441416&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1890/04-1959

DO - 10.1890/04-1959

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:30944441416

VL - 15

SP - 1941

EP - 1951

JO - Ecological Appplications

JF - Ecological Appplications

SN - 1051-0761

IS - 6

ER -