Presentation at the Biocrust 3 Workshop in Moab, Utah

Biocrust_logo.pngApplication of chlorophyll fluorescence, CO2 gas exchange and NDVI for the detection of spatial variances of photosynthesis of biological soil crusts on anthropogenic degraded soils

Stella Gypser and Maik Veste

Degradation of soils and the destruction of vegetation as a result of anthropogenic disturbances affect ecosystem functions and properties worldwide. In Brandenburg (NE Germany) various ecosystems were degraded by different human activities like surface mining and military activities on sand dunes. These resulted in degraded open landscapes with an initial soil development. These new ecosystems are characterized by a high vulnerability to erosion, low water holding capacity, lack of nutrients or low pH. For rehabilitation of degraded soils and vegetation, these post-mining and mobile sand dunes need specific restorStella Gypser.jpgation measures, but beside inappropriate soil characteristics, insufficient water availability can limit plant growth. Even located in the temperate zone of Europe, Brandenburg belongs to the driest regions in Germany and faces long drought periods. In this context, the determination of the influence of biocrusts on carbon accumulation during initial ecosystem succession, small-scale investigations on photosynthetic capaci
ty and active phase regarding biocrust formation and developmental stage, which vary from initial green algae-crusts to biocrusts dominated by soil lichens or mosses, are necessary. . Hence, succession of biocrusts result in a spatiotemporal heterogeneity and distribution pattern. We could show that varying species abundance, composition and crust succession affect photosynthetic capacity, and hence, carbon fixation capability. Different spatial hotspots could be analyzed under field conditions and monitored during the season. Long-term measurements of climatic parameters, which include radiation, temperature, precipitation and desiccation of biocrusts, will be linked to photosynthetic performances under lab conditions. This spatial model can help to understand the impact of biocrusts on carbon accumulation in initial soils. Due to the potential to colonize soil surface under harsh conditions without human support, advantages of biocrusts can be used systematically as a supporting rehabilitation measure for physical stabilization, gain of organic carbon, and hence, facilitates the growth of indigenous vegetation during primary succession.


Third International Workshop on Biological Soil Crusts, September 26-30. 2016, Moab, Utah, USA.