Formation of biocrusts at reclaimed post-mining sites

Formation of soil lichen crusts at reclaimed post-mining sites, Lower Lusatia, North-east Germany

Soil lichen communities can be found in many open landscapes in Europe where the soil surface is free of higher vegetation or with a sparse cover as xerothermic steppes, heaths or coastal and inland dunes . Such biological soil communities are built up by cyanobacteria, algae, bryophytes and lichens, which form complex structures with the soil mineral particles which are known as biological soil crusts. As pioneers, cryptogams play an important role in developmental processes, since they influence abiotic and biotic interactions in normal and disturbed ecosystems and may define successional pathways. For the restoration of disturbed ecosystems, the development of soil lichen crust communities is an important successional step for the reclamation of soil and ecosystem functioning in these highly stressed ecosystems. Biological soil crusts were investigated at reclaimed post-mining sites near Welzow and Schlabendorf in Lower Lusatia (Brandenburg, Germany). Various development stages from initial biological soil crusts built up by green algae, to more developed soil crusts with mosses, as well as moss-soil lichen crusts, were classified. The spatial-temporal dynamics during the development resulted in a moss-lichens cover with discrete patches of pioneer organisms like green algae in between. At the study sites, 13 species of terricolous lichens were identified. The formation of the biological soil crust is important for the accumulation of soil organic matter in the first millimeters of the topsoil of these pioneer ecosystems. A correlation between cryptogamic biomass and soil carbon content were found.

Stella Gypser, Maik Veste, Thomas Fischer, Philipp Lange (2015):
Formation of soil lichens crusts at reclaimed post-mining sites, Lower Lusatia, North-east Germany.
Graphis Scripta 27 (1–2): 3-14.