Biocrust.001

Biological Soil Crusts 

Worldwide the soils in arid and semi-arid regions is often covered by various  species of cyanobacteria, bacteria, green algae, mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi.  Biocrusts influencing the ecosysten processes: they influencing hydrological processes and decrease infiltration rates In addition to the influence on the ecohydrological conditions, the biological crust also stabilises the topsoil, reduces soil erosion, and enhances the nitrogen pools by nitrogen fixation. The understanding of pattern formations and interactions with biogeochemical and biotic processes are important for ecological theory and for applications in restoration ecology and soil reclamation.

Although biological soil crusts can be found in open landscapes worldwide, their species composition depends on soil properties such as texture and pH, on microclimate, and their respective developmental stage. In addition, local variations in water holding capacity and/or chemical properties of soils influence the formation of spatial patterns and different types of biocrusts on the landscape level. Photosynthetic activity and community respiration were measured in relation to successional stage and species composition. As photoautotroph microbiotic communities they contribute to carbon accumulation and soil formation of initial soils. For the evaluation of biocrusts functions and their impact on soil carbon pools, the analysis of the interrelationship between photosynthetic activity and the variations of spatial distribution pattern and types of biocrust is indispensable. For this purpose, an image processing approach was applied that combined chlorophyll fluorescence analyses and multispectral BNDVI to comprehensively characterize the spatial patterns of photosynthetic hotspots in biological soil crusts.

The goals of the research are to:

  • study the influence of microclimatic processes on physiological activity and biocrust pattern
  • estimate the potential carbon cycling of biocrusts and their importance for soil carbon 
  • develop new monitoring technology 


BioSoil lichens biocrusts on post-mining-sitesClimateBiocrust - Functional ecology of biocrustsSpatial analysis of photosynthesis using Imaging-Chlorophyll FluoresenceBiocrust wetness probes for monitoring crust wetness Initial green-algae soil crust on temperate sand dunes, Brandenburg, Germany



Influence of climate on physiological activity and small-scale development of biological soil crusts on initial soils in Brandenburg

The successional development of biocrusts communities and the resulting spatiotemporal heterogeneity of biocrust patches in the landscape depend on various abiotic factors e.g. surface stability, soil chemistry, microclimate and surface wetness. Aim of our research is to link physiological processes with the development of spatial pattern of biocrusts in relation to environmental boundary conditions. Read more


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