Structure and Functioning of Biological Soil Crusts: a Synthesis

  • J. Belnap
  • O. L. Lange
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 150)


Biological soil crusts play many important ecological roles worldwide, as amply demonstrated throughout this Volume. Given these roles, and the fact that soils in all semiarid and arid lands (representing over 30% of the Earth’s surface) have some degree of biological soil-crust development, these organisms are clearly a substantial force in shaping the structure and function of many ecosystems worldwide. Biological soil crusts are known to increase the stability of often easily eroded soils, influence local hydrological cycles in regions that receive limited precipitation, and increase soil fertility. Biological soil crusts occur in many diverse climates and soils. While some of the published information on soil crusts appears contradictory, chapters in this Volume show that most of the apparent controversy can be resolved by accounting for soil texture and climate (especially separating areas where soils do or do not freeze). Also, as can be seen in this Volume, new information has helped resolve what appeared to be contradictions in older studies.


Vascular Plant Crust Structure Arid Land Soil Crust Biological Soil Crust 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Belnap
  • O. L. Lange

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