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INSTAAR seminar: Advances in biological soil crust restoration in North American drylands

Monday, February 12, 2018, 12:15PM - 1:15PM


Nichole Barger



SEEC room S228 (Sievers Room)

4001 Discovery Drive, Boulder

Due to the importance of biological soil crusts (biocrusts) communities to the ecological functioning of dryland ecosystems, there is keen interest in restoration of these communities after soil surface disturbance. However, active biocrust rehabilitation has remained extremely difficult to achieve in field settings, both because of questions surrounding how to create biocrust inoculum and how to ensure the success of that inoculum in the environment.  In a series of multi-factorial experiments, we examined the effects of biocrust inoculum type and soil stabilization strategies on biocrust development in disturbed soils at cool and hot desert sites in the Western United States. We inoculated experimentally disturbed soils with 3 types of biocrust inoculum: field collected (FC), which was biocrust that was collected at the site, mixed, and redistributed across plots; local biomass (LB) inoculum that was grown in the greenhouse under optimal soil moisture, temperature, and nutrient conditions from small samples collected in the field; and mixed isolate (MI) inoculum that was created in the laboratory from cyanobacterial cultures collected at the site. Plots were prepared with two soil stabilization strategies. Straw checkerboards, in which straw served as silt fences, were installed in small (3 x 1 m) plots. In a second stabilization approach, polyacrylamide (DirtGlu) was applied to the soil surface in plots of the same size. The study was carried out in a factorial design of inoculum type by soil stabilization strategy on two soil types. I discuss our success in creating biocrust inoculum and results from the multifactorial experiments in the context of conducting larger scale biocrust restoration in dryland ecosystems.

Coffee hour

Coffee and cookies will be served before the talk, starting at 11:45.


Free and open to the public.