The term biological soil crust (or biocrust) encompasses the diverse community of moss, algae, lichens, and cyanobacteria living within the top inch of soil. Biocrusts form in all terrestrial ecotypes, but people often overlook them in favor of larger species. Biocrusts stabilize the soil by aggregation, reducing erosion. They increase soil fertility by enhancing nutrient cycling. A healthy biocrust increases infiltration and plays a role in succession towards a diverse and functioning ecosystem. They are especially important in arid and semi-arid ecosystems.
Towards the goal of restoring land to healthy ecosystem function, we consider all facets of the land, not just the vascular plants that may inhabit it. Unaided, biocrusts may take from decades to a century to reestablish after degradation. We would like to determine the most effective and practical methods to restore biological soil crusts.
Research and updates found here include projects on moss, lichens, and biocrust as we delve into this charismatic and important part of the ecosystem.
Matthew A. Bowker, Kyle D. Doherty, Anita J. Antoninka, Philip W. Ramsey, Mary Ellyn DuPre and Rebecca A. Durham (2022). Biocrusts Influence Vascular Plant Community Development, Promoting Native Plant Dominance. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10.3389.
Kyle D. Doherty, Henry S. Grover, Matthew A. Bowker, Rebecca A. Durham, Anita J. Antoninka, Philip W. Ramsey, (2020). Producing moss-colonized burlap fabric in a fog chamber for restoration of biocrust. Ecological Engineering Volume 158, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2020.106019.
Doherty, K., Bowker, M. A., Durham, R. A., Antoninka, A., Ramsey, P., & Mummey, D. (2019). Adapting mechanized vascular plant seed dispersal technologies to biocrust moss restoration. . Restoration Ecology 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12998.
Durham, R. A., Doherty, K. D., Antoninka, A. J., Ramsey, P. W., & Bowker, M. A. (2018). Insolation and disturbance history drive biocrust biodiversity in Western Montana rangelands. . Plant and Soil 430(1-2), 151-169. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-018-3725-3.
Bowker, M. A., Antoninka, A. J., & Durham, R. A. (2017). Applying community ecological theory to maximize productivity of cultivated biocrusts. Ecological Applications 27(6), 1958-1969. doi: 10.1002/eap.1582.