, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1611-1617
Date: 31 May 2014

Biological soil crusts in a changing world: introduction to the special issue

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Soil surface communities comprised of cyanobacteria, mosses, liverworts, fungi, eukaryotic algae and lichens (biological soil crusts or biocrusts) are a conspicuous and important biotic component of many terrestrial ecosystems worldwide, from the tropics to the poles, in which they strongly influence ecosystem structure and processes (Belnap and Lange 2003). Biocrusts show the resistance and resilience of life under extreme conditions as well as a remarkable adaptation to the combinations of different climatic factors throughout all latitudes. As such, it is not surprising that multiple aspects of the biology and taxonomy of biocrust constituents have been studied for many years (Belnap and Lange 2003). However, the interest of the scientific community in biocrusts has grown exponentially over the last two decades, and a new wave of research on the ecological roles of biocrusts has been conducted during this period (e.g. Lindo and Gonzalez 2010; Castillo-Monroy and Maestre 2011; Maestr ...