Interactions of Biological Soil Crusts with Vascular Plants

  • Yuanming ZhangEmail author
  • Asa L. Aradottir
  • Marcelo Serpe
  • Bertrand Boeken
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 226)


Biocrusts and vascular plants interact on many levels. The nature and consequences of these interactions vary with biocrust and plant characteristics and environmental conditions and throughout the plants’ life cycle. Biocrust structure and surface texture—shaped by its species composition and the environment—interacting with seed shape and size, determine whether the crust facilitates or deters seed capture and thus seedling establishment. In general, biocrusts tend to enhance plant growth through improved availability of nutrients, but root architecture plays a role in determining the effect of crusts on nutrient uptake. Furthermore, exchange of nutrients between biocrusts and vascular plants can occur through different pathways, including fungal linkages. Vascular plant communities also affect biocrust development, composition, and function through canopy shading, litterfall, and root activity and their effects on microclimate. The vascular plant canopy tends to favor certain biocrust species groups over others and usually enhances biocrust formation; however, a dense canopy can deprive crusts of adequate light for photosynthesis. Likewise, light litterfall may protect or favor biocrusts by improving the microclimatic conditions, while heavy litterfall can bury, damage, or destroy the crusts.


Vascular Plant Biological Soil Crust Litter Cover Gurbantunggut Desert Crustose Lichen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuanming Zhang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Asa L. Aradottir
    • 2
  • Marcelo Serpe
    • 3
  • Bertrand Boeken
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biogeography and BioresourceXinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesAgricultural University of IcelandBorgarnesIceland
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesBoise State UniversityBoiseUSA
  4. 4.Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevMidreshet Ben-GurionIsrael

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