Bryophytes Within Biological Soil Crusts

  • Rodney D. Seppelt
  • Alison J. Downing
  • Kirsten K. Deane-CoeEmail author
  • Yuanming Zhang
  • Jing Zhang
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 226)


The diversity and functional roles of biocrust bryophytes in different terrestrial habitats are described in this chapter. At present, over 320 species of biocrust bryophytes have been described, many of which belong to the families Pottiaceae and Bryaceae. Bryophytes possess a suite of physiological and morphological traits that enable them to colonize and live in extreme environments. For this reason, bryophytes can be a conspicuous component of biocrust communities in dryland ecosystems as well as polar regions. As poikilohydric plants, adaptations at the cell and shoot and population level permit the tolerance of desiccation as well as temperature stress, but such traits often come at the expense of growth rates and sexual reproduction. Establishment and dominance of bryophytes in biocrusts are dependent on physical factors such as substrate chemistry and aridity and biotic factors such as propagule banks and the presence of other biocrust organisms. Primary colonists such as cyanobacteria and fungi typically facilitate establishment, and bryophytes often occur in the later stages of crust development. Ecologically, biocrust bryophytes provide habitats for other crust community members and also contribute to soil stability, hydrology, and nutrient cycling.


Biological Soil Crust Crust Development Bryophyte Species Gurbantunggut Desert Propagule Bank 
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

  • Rodney D. Seppelt
    • 1
  • Alison J. Downing
    • 2
  • Kirsten K. Deane-Coe
    • 3
    Email author
  • Yuanming Zhang
    • 4
  • Jing Zhang
    • 4
  1. 1.Tasmanian HerbariumSandy BayAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Plant BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina

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