Biocrusts Mediate Plant Community Structure and Composition in Dryland Ecosystems
Biocrust, an important part of arid and semi-arid ecosystem, plays an important role in water balance, element cycling, energy distribution and soil erosion.
Previous studies have suggested that biocrust might be a key factor affecting plant community species composition and plant growth status in dryland. However, how biocrust regulates plant community composition and growth status is still largely unknown.
Recently, a research team from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) investigated the effects of biocrusts on seed germination, seedling growth and survival of different life stages of plants from adjacent desert steppe, and revealed the biocrusts in artificial ecosystem of plant community species composition and growth mechanism.
Related results were published in Science of The Total Environment.
In this study, the researchers performed a series of pot experiments under greenhouse conditions at three disturbance level and rainfall gradients for different biocrust types. They found that biocrusts had significantly different effects on the seed germination and survival of the tested plant species.
The results indicated that during the process of introduction and establishment of plant species in revegetated systems, as a key biological factor, biocrusts play an ecological filtering role in plant species introduction into the revegetation ecosystem and promote the establishment and survival of plant species adapted to the current revegetated community.
This discovery clarifies the scientific significance of biocrusts in maintaining the health and stability of revegetated areas and provides a scientific basis for the management of artificially vegetated ecosystem.