Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Biocrust Special Session of the Biennial Conference of Science and Management on the Colorado Plateau & Southwest Region
The Biennial Conference is here at NAU next week, and we really excited about the speakers presenting at the Biocrust Special Session, which is happening on Wednesday, October 7th in Agassiz room.
Here is a link to the conference schedule, which includes the biocrust special session: Biennial Conference schedule
Lab members presenting include:
11:55–12:15 RESTORING THE LIVING SKIN OF THE EARTH: PROGRESS IN BIOCRUST RESTORATION IN THE GREAT BASIN AND CHIHUAHUAN DESERTS. ANTONINKA, A., M.A. Bowker, N. Barger, S. Reed, J. Belnap, K. Doherty
1:35–1:55 USING BIOLOGICAL SOIL CRUST FOR SOIL STABILIZATION AND RESTORATION. YOUNG, K.E., M.A. Bowker, S.C. Reed, M.C. Duniway, and J. Belnap
1:55–2:15 RAPID CULTIVATION OF N-FIXING LICHENS AND BIOCRUSTS FOR REHABILITATION OF DRYLANDS. BOWKER, M., A.J. Antoninka, S.C. Reed, K.D. Doherty, J. Belnap, N.N. Barge
2:35–2:55 FIRE MOSS AS A TOOL FOR POST-WILDFIRE ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION. IVES, C.I.
Also be sure to check out Mike Remke's talk on Tuesday in the Genetic and Genomic Approaches for Mitigating Impacts of Climate Change and Exotic Species Invasion on Wildlands – Invited Session.
2:00–2:15 THE ROLE OF MYCORRHIZAE AND SOIL ORGANISM COMMUNITIES IN RESTORING A NATIVE GRASS, BOUTELOUA GRACILIS, IN THE FACE OF A DYNAMIC CLIMATES AND EXOTIC SPECIES INVASION. REMKE, M.J., M. Bowker, and N.C. Johnson
Finally, there is one additional biocrust talk by Carla Roybal outside the special session in the Plant Ecology General Session on Thursday in the Fremont Room, don't miss it!:
9:00–9:15 NUTRIENT ADDITION CHANGE NITROGEN FIXATION RATES OF COLORADO PLATEAU SOIL CRUST. ROYBAL, C.M., and S.C. Reed
Monday, September 28, 2015
Biocrust research with MPG Ranch(near Missoula, MT) is underway in the field and greenhouse!One might not think of biocrusts as critically important to ecosystem function in the intermountain west, but they are abundant, diverse and provide the same ecosystem functions we think about in more typical deserts. These functions include soil retention and stability, soil fertility and water capture.
Mosses and lichens are common under the canopies of shrubs and in plant interspaces.
In conjunction with MPG Ranch Researcher, Rebecca Durham, we have begun an extensive field survey to inventory the biocrust species present, as well as look for associations. We are interested to know how the biocrust community composition and abundance varies with aspect, elevation, soil types, and plant community. We are particularly interested to look for biocrust indicators found with native, invaded or otherwise disturbed plant communities. This information will help us set goals for restoration, and target species to use in restoration efforts.
|Matt Bowker and Rebeccas Durham collecting biocrust data.|
1. Determine if we can grow these species, and if so, what conditions work best?
2. Look at competition/facilitation relationships among the lichens Diploschistes muscorum and Cladonia sp., and among the 5 moss species.
3. Determine which of these species might be best alone or in communities to use in field restoration experiments.
|280 Experimental units are have been treated with various biocrust species alone or in mixes, and are being subjected to different watering regimes.|
We're excited to note that our greenhouse biocrusts are already growing. We'll have results to share for filed and greenhouse work in the coming months.
Monday, September 21, 2015
I'm excited to share with you some photos of the amazing biocrust grown by the Bowker lab over the summer!
Here are some photos of the absolutely beautiful crust grown at the NAU greenhouse from inoculum collected in Bandelier National Monument. We grew the crust for five months giving it plenty of water and comfortable growing conditions. In July we harvested the grown crust and distributed the "bulked" (greenhouse grown) inoculum into experimental field plots in Bandelier National Monument. In the below picture, you can see where biocrust has been scraped from the soil surface and collected to use for field inoculum.
The idea behind the project that Matt, myself, and our USGS colleagues developed is to see if the addition of biocrust, in combination with other restoration techniques, can help stabilize the actively eroding soils of Bandelier National Monument.
Pictures like the one above show the incredible ability of cyanboacterial filaments to hold onto soil particles and thereby aggregate the soil surface together. In the picture below you see the underside of a large chunk of biocrust. We gently scraped off soil particles clinging to the underside of the crust, and exposed all the cyanobacterial filaments. Pretty cool!
We are interested to see if biocrust's ability to aggregate the soil surface, provide soil nutrients, and increase soil water retention may help to get Bandelier out of its cycle of erosion. In October we will go back to Bandelier to see if the field inoculum has grown. Stay tuned for an update on the progress in late fall!
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Come hear about our research at Science on Tap, tommorrow might at 5:30. Science and beer together at last!