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Small-Scale Spatial Heterogeneity of Photosynthetic Fluorescence Associated with Biological Soil Crust Succession in the Tengger Desert, China

  • Shubin Lan
  • Andrew David Thomas
  • Stephen Tooth
  • Li Wu
  • Chunxiang HuEmail author
Soil Microbiology

Abstract

In dryland regions, biological soil crusts (BSCs) have numerous important ecosystem functions. Crust species and functions are, however, highly spatially heterogeneous and remain poorly understood at a range of scales. In this study, chlorophyll fluorescence imaging was used to quantify millimeter-scale patterns in the distribution and activity of photosynthetic organisms in BSCs of different successional stages (including cyanobacterial, lichen, moss three main successional stages and three intermixed transitional stages) from the Tengger Desert, China. Chlorophyll fluorescence images derived from the Imaging PAM (Pulse Amplitude Modulation) showed that with the succession from cyanobacterial to lichen and to moss crusts, crust photosynthetic efficiency (including the maximum and effective photosynthetic efficiency, respectively) and fluorescence coverage increased significantly (P < 0.05), and that increasing photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) reduced the effective photosynthetic efficiency (Yield). The distribution of photosynthetic organisms in crusts determined Fv/Fm (ratio of variable fluorescence to maximum fluorescence) frequency pattern, although the photosynthetic heterogeneity (SHI index) was not significantly different (P > 0.05) between cyanobacterial and moss crusts, and showed a unimodal pattern of Fv/Fm values. In contrast, photosynthetic heterogeneity was significantly higher in lichen, cyanobacteria-moss and lichen-moss crusts (P < 0.05), with a bimodal pattern of Fv/Fm values. Point pattern analysis showed that the distribution pattern of chlorophyll fluorescence varied at different spatial scales and also among the different crust types. These new results provide a detailed (millimeter-scale) insight into crust photosynthetic mechanisms and spatial distribution patterns associated with their community types. Collectively, this information provides an improved theoretical basis for crust maintenance and management in dryland regions.

Keywords

Drylands Biological soil crusts Chlorophyll fluorescence Photosynthesis Heterogeneity Succession 

Notes

Funding Information

This study was kindly supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. XDA17010502), National Natural Science Foundation of china (Nos. 31670456 and 31300322), Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS (No. 2017385), and European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant (No. 663830). The paper was prepared while S. Lan was a Sêr Cymru Fellow at Aberystwyth University, and L. Wu was a Visiting Scholar at Aberystwyth University.

Supplementary material

248_2019_1356_MOESM1_ESM.docx (132 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 131 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Algal Biology, Institute of HydrobiologyChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Earth SciencesAberystwyth UniversityAberystwythUK
  3. 3.School of Resources and Environmental EngineeringWuhan University of TechnologyWuhanChina

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