Biological Soil Crusts: Structure, Function, and Management

Volume 150 of the series Ecological Studies pp 217-240

Photosynthesis of Soil-Crust Biota as Dependent on Environmental Factors

  • O. L. Lange

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Limited productivity of vascular plant communities in semiarid and arid regions generally results in low soil organic carbon content. In these situations, crust biota can be the most important autotrophic contributors of fixed carbon, delivering this carbon to the soil ecosystem by leaching and decaying processes. The photosynthetic carbon assimilation of crustal organisms thus plays an important role by contributing to the humus reservoir of the soil, supporting heterotrophic soil life, and supplying nutrients for the phanerogamous vegetation (see Beymer and Klopatek 1991 and Chaps. 19–21).