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Sustainability Events

Beauty can be Just Skin-Deep: The Essential Role of Surficial Microbes in Current and Future Desert Ecosystem Function

Jayne Belnap

  • US Geological Survey

In dryland regions, where plants are sparse, soil surface communities are often the dominant life form. These communities control many ecosystem processes in desert settings. They often determine local hydrology by roughening soil surface roughness and creating soil aggregates. They fix and contribute carbon and nitrogen to soils, and secrete compound to make phosphorus bio-available. They are critical in stabilizing soils and reducing dust production and sediments entering streams. Unfortunately, biocrusts are highly vulnerable to soil-surface disturbance and changing climate regimes, which will alter their role in desert ecosystems. In this talk, Belnap will explore how changes to these communities can reverberate throughout trophic levels and impact regional-scale cycles.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
3:30 - 4:30 p.m.