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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2017-430
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2017-430
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: reviews and syntheses 16 Nov 2017

Submitted as: reviews and syntheses | 16 Nov 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript for further review has not been submitted.

Aerobiology and passive restoration of biological soil crusts

Steven D. Warren1, Larry L. St. Clair2, and Steven D. Leavitt2 Steven D. Warren et al.
  • 1US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 735 North 500 East, Provo, UT 84606-1856, USA
  • 2Department of Biology & Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA

Abstract. Biological soil crusts (BSCs) commonly occupy the surface of many arid and semiarid soils, and disturbed soils in more mesic environments. BSCs perform many essential ecological services. Substantial resources have been invested trying to restore BSCs that have been damaged by anthropogenic disturbances, largely to no avail. The nexus of science related to crust restoration and to aerobiology strongly suggests that crusts can become reestablished via naturally occurring processes. Propagules of BSC organisms are found naturally in the atmosphere, and are transported long distances. Whether restoration occurs naturally in this way, or by costly attempts to produce and disseminate artificial inoculants, success is ultimately moderated and governed by the timing and frequency of adequate precipitation relative to the arrival of viable propagules on suitable substrate at an appropriate time of the year. For greatest ecological benefit, efforts should focus primarily on minimizing the scope and scale of anthropogenic disturbance of BSCs in arid ecosystems.

Steven D. Warren et al.
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Status: closed (peer review stopped)
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Interactive discussion
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
Steven D. Warren et al.
Steven D. Warren et al.
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Short summary
Biological soil crusts (BSCs), common features of arid soils, are consortia of cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, lichens, and mosses. They control soil hydrology and stability, concentrate essential nutrients, and influence vascular plant survival. BSCs are easily disturbed and slow to recover. Mechanisms of recovery are poorly understood. From the field of aerobiology, we find that BSC organisms are carried airborne between areas, continents, and even hemispheres.
Biological soil crusts (BSCs), common features of arid soils, are consortia of cyanobacteria,...
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