Responses of biological soil crusts to rehabilitation strategies

Taylor Chock, Anita J. Antoninka, Akasha M. Faist, Matthew A Bowker, Jayne Belnap, Nichole N. Barger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are common to dryland ecosystems and can influence a broad suite of soil ecological functions including stability and surface hydrology. Due to long recovery times following disturbance, there is a clear need for rehabilitation strategies to enhance the recovery of biocrust communities. Essential to biocrust recovery are exopolysaccharides (EPS): secretions comprised mainly of high molecular weight polymers that protect cyanobacteria and other biocrust organisms from harsh environmental conditions. We examined whether biocrust rehabilitation strategies (combinations of inoculation with surface shading and artificial soil stabilization) promote EPS production. To test if responses varied by soil texture, we measured biocrust recovery on two fine-textured soils (clay and sandy clay loam) in a cool desert ecosystem. Shade coupled with inoculum addition resulted in the highest biocrust recovery, especially on clay soils. Independent of rehabilitation strategies, natural recovery of biocrusts occurred more rapidly on clay soils, reflected by greater increases in chlorophyll a (chl a). Chl a, a proxy for cyanobacterial biomass, was correlated to EPS amounts, suggesting that cyanobacteria are significant contributors to EPS production in biocrust development. Despite the role of EPS in biocrust establishment, EPS amounts had negligible effects on soil stability on the fine soil texture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume163
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Fingerprint

soil crusts
soil crust
exopolysaccharides
clay soil
soil texture
clay soils
Cyanobacteria
cyanobacterium
shade
clay
soil by texture
rehabilitation
soil stabilization
sandy clay loam
biological production
fine-textured soils
ecosystems
ecosystem
ecological function
shading

Keywords

  • Chlorophyll a
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Exopolysaccharides
  • Restoration
  • Soil stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

Cite this

Responses of biological soil crusts to rehabilitation strategies. / Chock, Taylor; Antoninka, Anita J.; Faist, Akasha M.; Bowker, Matthew A; Belnap, Jayne; Barger, Nichole N.

In: Journal of Arid Environments, Vol. 163, 01.04.2019, p. 77-85.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chock, Taylor ; Antoninka, Anita J. ; Faist, Akasha M. ; Bowker, Matthew A ; Belnap, Jayne ; Barger, Nichole N. / Responses of biological soil crusts to rehabilitation strategies. In: Journal of Arid Environments. 2019 ; Vol. 163. pp. 77-85.
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