By Nichole Barger, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
Biological soil crusts are assemblages of lichens, fungi, cyanobacteria and mosses that colonize soil surfaces in arid land ecosystems. In those ecosystems where vascular plant cover is sparse, biological soil crusts may make up to 70% of the living ground cover and play an important role in nutrient cycling and stabilization of soil surfaces. Over the last century, biological soil crust communities in the western US have been disturbed by intensive land use practices such as livestock grazing and recreational use of public lands. In this talk, I will discuss my work on biological soil crusts communities on the Colorado Plateau and discuss the need for conservation of these unique micophytic soil communities.
Nichole Barger is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado. Nichole’s current research mission is to better understand the impacts of changing climate and land use on plant communities and soil resources in arid lands ecosystems; research that crosses the boundaries of community, ecosystem and landscape ecology.