Plant and Soil

, Volume 429, Issue 1–2, pp 241–251 | Cite as

Variations in cyanobacterial and algal communities and soil characteristics under biocrust development under similar environmental conditions

  • Yulin Zhang
  • Pengfei Duan
  • Ping Zhang
  • Ming LiEmail author
Regular Article



Cyanobacterial and algal communities have a large effect on biocrust formation and development. Biocrust species and abundance vary spatially and temporally due to different environmental factors. The relationships among cyanobacterial and algal communities, and biocrust function have been studied extensively. Lacking, however, are studies of temporal changes in a similar landscape where environmental conditions are similar, but where biocrust formation is different.


Biocrusts of different ages were located in the Loess Plateau in an area that had experienced a landslide. We examined changes in cyanobacterial and algal communities, carbon, nutrients, and the composition of dissolved organic matter in the topsoil, and the relationships among the community and soil characteristics using redundancy analysis.


Phormidium tenue (Cyanophyta) dominated in all biocrusts, and co-dominated in a newly formed crust with Euglena sp. (Euglenophyta). Oscillatoria sp. (Cyanophyta) increased with biocrust age. Oscillatoria was positively correlated with carbon fixation and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) accumulation in topsoils.


While incubation of Phormidium tenue and Euglena sp. is suggested for rapid biocrust formation at an early stage, increasing the abundance of Phormidium tenue and Oscillatoria sp. can promote carbon fixation and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) accumulation, thereby accelerating biocrusts into a later stage.


Biocrust Dissolved organic carbon EEM-PARAFAC Spectroscopic characteristics 





Dissolved organic matter


Dissolved organic carbon


Fluorescence index


Parallel factor analysis


Redundancy analysis









The authors acknowledge financial support from the scientific research and service platform fund of Henan Province (2016151), the funding from scientific and technological innovation team of water ecological security for Water Source Region of Mid-line of South-to-North Diversion Project of Henan Province, the Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities (Northwest A&F University, Grant No. 2452015049; 2452015354) and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC, Project No. 41601324). We would also like to express great appreciation to the anonymous reviewers and the editor for thoughtful and professional comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentNorthwest A & F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Collaborative Innovation Center of Water Security for Water Source Region of Mid-line of South-to-North Diversion ProjectNanyang Normal UniversityNanyangPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and the Agri-environment in Northwest China, Ministry of AgricultureYanglingPeople’s Republic of China

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