Hydrology in a patterned landscape is co-engineered by soil-disturbing animals and biological crusts

Matthew A Bowker, David J. Eldridge, James Val, Santiago Soliveres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Water redistribution has a profound influence on dryland ecosystem function. This hydrological function is largely regulated by ecosystem engineers including biological soil crusts (biocrusts) which produce run-off, and burrowing animals, such as the greater bilby, whose pits capture water. We estimated the relative importance of these two ecosystem engineers in determining infiltration rates in a system where dune slopes shed water to adjacent interdune swales to maximize overall productivity. Also, we determined which biocrust property was most hydrologically important: total cover, composition, patch aggregation or spatial heterogeneity. While both biocrusts and burrowing animals equally affected the overall infiltration through macro- and micropores (under ponding), only biocrusts were important for the infiltration specifically via micropores (under tension). Of the studied biocrust properties, community composition was the strongest influence such that the greater the prevalence of early successional biocrust patches, the greater the infiltration rate. Greater total cover of biocrusts reduced infiltration, and the spatial properties were relatively unimportant. Although bilbies and biocrusts comparably influenced infiltration under ponding at the microscale, realistic cover of bilby pits at the landscape scale is unlikely to strongly impair the hydrological function of dunes. Reintroduction of the endangered bilby may enhance nutrient cycling and plant recruitment via its seed and resource capturing pits, without a concomitant disruption of hydrological function. In contrast, removal of biocrusts caused by, e.g., livestock trampling, is expected to strongly enhance infiltration in the run-off areas, strongly reducing ecosystem productivity at the landscape scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Volume61
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Fingerprint

Hydrology
soil crusts
soil crust
hydrology
Soil
crust
infiltration
animal
infiltration (hydrology)
soil
animals
Ecosystem
micropores
burrowing
dunes
dune
Water
ecosystem
runoff
productivity

Keywords

  • Animal burrowing
  • Arid and semi-arid
  • Bilby
  • Bryophytes
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Ecosystem function
  • Infiltration
  • Lichens
  • Run-off
  • Water redistribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Microbiology

Cite this

Hydrology in a patterned landscape is co-engineered by soil-disturbing animals and biological crusts. / Bowker, Matthew A; Eldridge, David J.; Val, James; Soliveres, Santiago.

In: Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 61, 06.2013, p. 14-22.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{3acb5396eb6c4f6ca25275b7cfae5835,
title = "Hydrology in a patterned landscape is co-engineered by soil-disturbing animals and biological crusts",
abstract = "Water redistribution has a profound influence on dryland ecosystem function. This hydrological function is largely regulated by ecosystem engineers including biological soil crusts (biocrusts) which produce run-off, and burrowing animals, such as the greater bilby, whose pits capture water. We estimated the relative importance of these two ecosystem engineers in determining infiltration rates in a system where dune slopes shed water to adjacent interdune swales to maximize overall productivity. Also, we determined which biocrust property was most hydrologically important: total cover, composition, patch aggregation or spatial heterogeneity. While both biocrusts and burrowing animals equally affected the overall infiltration through macro- and micropores (under ponding), only biocrusts were important for the infiltration specifically via micropores (under tension). Of the studied biocrust properties, community composition was the strongest influence such that the greater the prevalence of early successional biocrust patches, the greater the infiltration rate. Greater total cover of biocrusts reduced infiltration, and the spatial properties were relatively unimportant. Although bilbies and biocrusts comparably influenced infiltration under ponding at the microscale, realistic cover of bilby pits at the landscape scale is unlikely to strongly impair the hydrological function of dunes. Reintroduction of the endangered bilby may enhance nutrient cycling and plant recruitment via its seed and resource capturing pits, without a concomitant disruption of hydrological function. In contrast, removal of biocrusts caused by, e.g., livestock trampling, is expected to strongly enhance infiltration in the run-off areas, strongly reducing ecosystem productivity at the landscape scale.",
keywords = "Animal burrowing, Arid and semi-arid, Bilby, Bryophytes, Cyanobacteria, Ecosystem function, Infiltration, Lichens, Run-off, Water redistribution",
author = "Bowker, {Matthew A} and Eldridge, {David J.} and James Val and Santiago Soliveres",
year = "2013",
month = "6",
doi = "10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.02.002",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "61",
pages = "14--22",
journal = "Soil Biology and Biochemistry",
issn = "0038-0717",
publisher = "Elsevier Limited",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Hydrology in a patterned landscape is co-engineered by soil-disturbing animals and biological crusts

AU - Bowker, Matthew A

AU - Eldridge, David J.

AU - Val, James

AU - Soliveres, Santiago

PY - 2013/6

Y1 - 2013/6

N2 - Water redistribution has a profound influence on dryland ecosystem function. This hydrological function is largely regulated by ecosystem engineers including biological soil crusts (biocrusts) which produce run-off, and burrowing animals, such as the greater bilby, whose pits capture water. We estimated the relative importance of these two ecosystem engineers in determining infiltration rates in a system where dune slopes shed water to adjacent interdune swales to maximize overall productivity. Also, we determined which biocrust property was most hydrologically important: total cover, composition, patch aggregation or spatial heterogeneity. While both biocrusts and burrowing animals equally affected the overall infiltration through macro- and micropores (under ponding), only biocrusts were important for the infiltration specifically via micropores (under tension). Of the studied biocrust properties, community composition was the strongest influence such that the greater the prevalence of early successional biocrust patches, the greater the infiltration rate. Greater total cover of biocrusts reduced infiltration, and the spatial properties were relatively unimportant. Although bilbies and biocrusts comparably influenced infiltration under ponding at the microscale, realistic cover of bilby pits at the landscape scale is unlikely to strongly impair the hydrological function of dunes. Reintroduction of the endangered bilby may enhance nutrient cycling and plant recruitment via its seed and resource capturing pits, without a concomitant disruption of hydrological function. In contrast, removal of biocrusts caused by, e.g., livestock trampling, is expected to strongly enhance infiltration in the run-off areas, strongly reducing ecosystem productivity at the landscape scale.

AB - Water redistribution has a profound influence on dryland ecosystem function. This hydrological function is largely regulated by ecosystem engineers including biological soil crusts (biocrusts) which produce run-off, and burrowing animals, such as the greater bilby, whose pits capture water. We estimated the relative importance of these two ecosystem engineers in determining infiltration rates in a system where dune slopes shed water to adjacent interdune swales to maximize overall productivity. Also, we determined which biocrust property was most hydrologically important: total cover, composition, patch aggregation or spatial heterogeneity. While both biocrusts and burrowing animals equally affected the overall infiltration through macro- and micropores (under ponding), only biocrusts were important for the infiltration specifically via micropores (under tension). Of the studied biocrust properties, community composition was the strongest influence such that the greater the prevalence of early successional biocrust patches, the greater the infiltration rate. Greater total cover of biocrusts reduced infiltration, and the spatial properties were relatively unimportant. Although bilbies and biocrusts comparably influenced infiltration under ponding at the microscale, realistic cover of bilby pits at the landscape scale is unlikely to strongly impair the hydrological function of dunes. Reintroduction of the endangered bilby may enhance nutrient cycling and plant recruitment via its seed and resource capturing pits, without a concomitant disruption of hydrological function. In contrast, removal of biocrusts caused by, e.g., livestock trampling, is expected to strongly enhance infiltration in the run-off areas, strongly reducing ecosystem productivity at the landscape scale.

KW - Animal burrowing

KW - Arid and semi-arid

KW - Bilby

KW - Bryophytes

KW - Cyanobacteria

KW - Ecosystem function

KW - Infiltration

KW - Lichens

KW - Run-off

KW - Water redistribution

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84874773154&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84874773154&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.02.002

DO - 10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.02.002

M3 - Article

VL - 61

SP - 14

EP - 22

JO - Soil Biology and Biochemistry

JF - Soil Biology and Biochemistry

SN - 0038-0717

ER -