IGN 9-3 - Biocrusts and climate change: Adapted to pulse-dynamics, or adapted to death?

Thursday, August 11, 2016
316, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Scott Ferrenberg1, Colin Tucker2 and Sasha C. Reed1, (1)Southwest Biological Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Moab, UT, (2)Botany and Program in Ecology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
Biocrusts are widespread soil communities adapted to pulsed water availability on dryland surfaces. Following even extended desiccation, biocrusts recover photosynthetic activity within minutes of wetting, leading to pulses in productivity and respiration implicated in regulating biogeochemical cycles at the global-scale. Adaptations for capitalizing on water pulses may translate into increasing biocrust influences on ecosystem functioning relative to vascular plants, yet these adaptations also make biocrusts particularly vulnerable to climate change. Enhanced understanding of biocrust contributions to ecosystem function is a necessity for forecasting climate, and will require creative efforts to characterize biocrust cover, function, and responses to environmental change.