Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/bg-2017-99
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
29 Mar 2017
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper is under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).
Bryophyte-dominated biological soil crusts mitigate soil erosion in an early successional Chinese subtropical forest
Steffen Seitz1, Martin Nebel2,3, Philipp Goebes1, Kathrin Käppeler1, Karsten Schmidt1, Zhengshan Song1, Carla L. Webber4, Bettina Weber5, and Thomas Scholten1 1Department of Geosciences, Soil Science and Geomorphology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, 72070, Germany
2State Museum of Natural History, Stuttgart, 70191, Germany
3Nees Institute for Biodiversity of Plants, University of Bonn, Bonn, 53115, Germany
4Department of Geosciences, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, 90040-060, Brazil
5Multiphase Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, 55128, Germany
Abstract. This study investigated the development of biological soil crust (biocrust) covers in an early successional subtropical forest ecosystem and their impact on soil erosion. Within a biodiversity and ecosystem functioning experiment in Southeast China (BEF China), sediment discharge and runoff measurements were conducted with micro-scale runoff plots under natural rainfall and biocrust covers were surveyed over a five-year period.

Results showed that biocrusts occurred widely in our experimental forest ecosystem and developed from initial light cyanobacteria- and algae-dominated crusts to later-stage bryophyte-dominated crusts in only three years. Biocrust covers were still increasing after six years of tree growth. Within later stage crusts, 25 bryophyte species were determined. The development of biocrusts was significantly influenced by the surrounding vegetation cover and terrain attributes. Besides high crown cover and leaf area index, the development of biocrusts was favoured by low slope gradients, slope orientations towards the incident sunlight and the altitude of the research plots. Our measurements showed, that bryophyte-dominated biocrusts were importantly decreasing soil erosion and more effective in erosion reduction than abiotic soil surface covers. Hence, their significant role to mitigate sediment discharge and runoff generation in mesic forest environments and their ability to quickly colonize gaps in higher vegetation layers are of particular interest for soil erosion control in early stage forest plantations. A detailed record of different biocrust species and their functional influence on soil erosion processes as well as a thorough monitoring of biocrust covers under closing tree canopy in subtropical forests is required in further studies.


Citation: Seitz, S., Nebel, M., Goebes, P., Käppeler, K., Schmidt, K., Song, Z., Webber, C. L., Weber, B., and Scholten, T.: Bryophyte-dominated biological soil crusts mitigate soil erosion in an early successional Chinese subtropical forest, Biogeosciences Discuss., doi:10.5194/bg-2017-99, in review, 2017.
Steffen Seitz et al.
Steffen Seitz et al.
Steffen Seitz et al.

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Short summary
This study investigated biological soil crusts (biocrusts, e.g. mosses or lichens) in a young subtropical forest in China. Biocrust covers occurred widely and the surrounding vegetation cover and landscape influenced their development. Biocrusts were importantly decreasing soil erosion and more effective in erosion reduction than stone cover. Hence, they play an important role to mitigate soil erosion under forest and are of particular interest for erosion control in forest plantations.
This study investigated biological soil crusts (biocrusts, e.g. mosses or lichens) in a young...
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