Synthesis on Biological Soil Crust Research

  • Bettina WeberEmail author
  • Jayne Belnap
  • Burkhard Büdel
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 226)


In this closing chapter, we summarize the advances in biological soil crust (biocrust) research made during the last 1.5 decades. In the first part of the chapter, we discuss how in some research fields, such as the microbial diversity of fungi, bacteria, and microfauna, the interaction between biocrusts and vascular plants, and in the rehabilitation of biocrusts, particularly large achievements have been made. We also review the corroboration and refinement of previously established knowledge in other research areas, e.g., in the fields of soil stabilization and disturbance effects.

In the second part of the chapter, we outline the research gaps and challenges foreseen by us. We identify multiple knowledge gaps, including many understudied geographic regions, the largely missing link between genetic and morphological species identification data, and the answers to some mechanistic questions, such as the overall role of biocrusts in hydrology and nutrient cycles. With some ideas on promising new research questions and approaches, we close this chapter and the overall book.


Biological Soil Crust Eukaryotic Alga Bryophyte Diversity Climate Change Report Microcoleus Vaginatus 
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 would like to thank Emilio Rodríguez-Caballero for preparing and providing Fig. 25.1. BW gratefully acknowledges support by the Max Planck Society (Nobel Laureate Fellowship) and the German Research Foundation (projects WE2393/2-1 and WE2393/2-2). JB thanks the US Geological Survey’s Ecosystems and Climate and Land Use programs for support. BB acknowledges grants (BU666/11 to 19) by the German Research foundation (DFG). Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US government.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Multiphase Chemistry DepartmentMax Planck Institute for ChemistryMainzGermany
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science CenterMoabUSA
  3. 3.Plant Ecology and Systematics, Department of BiologyUniversity of KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany

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