Biological Soil Crusts as a Model System in Ecology

  1. Maestre, Fernando T.
  2. Bowker, Matthew A.
  3. Eldridge, David J.
  4. Cortina, Jordi
  5. Lázaro, Roberto
  6. Gallardo, Antonio
  7. Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel
  8. Berdugo, Miguel
  9. Castillo-Monroy, Andrea P.
  10. Valencia, Enrique
Biological Soil Crusts: An Organizing Principle in Drylands

Publisher: Springer

ISSN: 0070-8356 2196-971X

ISBN: 9783319302126 9783319302140

Year of publication: 2016

Pages: 407-425

Type: Book chapter

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-30214-0_20 GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openOpen access editor


We explore in this chapter how biological soil crusts (biocrusts) may serve as a useful model system for studying multiple questions of interest in ecology, including biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships, positive and negative species interactions along environmental gradients, the source–sink hydrological dynamics in drylands, and ecosystem resistance and resilience. To illustrate our views, we synthesize recent and ongoing studies that are employing biocrusts as model systems to tackle these and other related questions, emphasizing the main features of biocrusts that make them special and well suited to advance ecological theory and our understanding of many important topics in community and ecosystem ecology. We complete the synthesis of the studies conducted so far with recommendations aiming to promote the use of biocrusts by community and ecosystem ecologists.

Funding information


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