Enhanced Recovery of Biological Soil Crusts After Disturbance

  • Yunge ZhaoEmail author
  • Matthew A. Bowker
  • Yuanming Zhang
  • Eli Zaady
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 226)


Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are sensitive to anthropogenic and natural disturbances and are slow to recover in many ecosystems. Rehabilitation of biocrusts can accelerate the recovery of their structure and function and also assist in speeding restoration of degraded ecosystems. In this chapter we review the theoretical foundations, principles, and methods of biocrust rehabilitation and its effect on the recovery of ecological functions. Several studies have demonstrated the feasibility of rehabilitation by inoculations with biocrust organisms. They include the culture of cyanobacteria and mosses in the laboratory and their application as field inoculant. Rehabilitation of lichen crusts has been less successful to date, as lichens require much longer to grow under lab or field conditions. There are still many topics worthy of future study, including the improvement of methods for field application of biocrust inocula, the scaling-up of moss culture techniques, and the exploration of more moss species as inocula.


Biological Soil Crust Moss Species Degraded Ecosystem Gurbantunggut Desert Moss Crust 
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.



We thank David J. Eldridge for supporting the information regarding advances in cultivation of biocrusts in Australia and Dunhai Li and Weibo Wang for the photos and the related information in Fig. 24.2. Our appreciation also goes to Jayne Belnap and Bettina Weber for their constructive suggestions. The unpublished data from Yunge Zhao in the chapter are partial results of the ongoing “western light” project named “Ecological suitability of desiccation tolerance bryophytes and their application in desertification control in arid and semiarid regions.” Matt A. Bowker gratefully acknowledges the hard work of Kyle Doherty and Anita Antoninka and the support of the Bureau of Land Management, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (US Department of Defense, US Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency), the Natural Resource Preservation Program (US Geological Survey, National Park Service), and the MPG Ranch.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yunge Zhao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew A. Bowker
    • 2
  • Yuanming Zhang
    • 3
  • Eli Zaady
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water ConservationNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingP. R. China
  2. 2.School of ForestryNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biogeography and Bioresource, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqi, XinjiangP. R. China
  4. 4.Department of Natural Resources, Agricultural Research Organization, Institute of Plant Sciences, Gilat Research CenterNegev 2Israel

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