tag: drylands

Do some microbes exploit biocrusts?

Biocrusts are recognised for numerous beneficial functions in dryland environments including the promotion of surface stability, moisture retention, and sequestration of carbon and nitrogen from the air which enriches the soil. In microbial biocrusts these benefits are delivered as a consequence of the microbial community adaptations for survival. The biocrust …

Wetlands in Drylands: Hidden Hotspots of Carbon Sequestration and Storage?

Although the term ‘wetlands in drylands’ sounds like a contradiction, many drylands host a range of ephemeral wetlands. Pans, for example, are widespread features in many drylands, representing topographic depressions of varying size and shape that host ephemeral, sometimes saline, bodies of shallow water following infrequent precipitation or river flooding …

The Influence of Trees, Shrubs and Grasses on Micro-Climate, Soil Carbon, Nitrogen and CO2 Efflux: Potential Implications of Shrub Encroachment for Kalahari Rangelands

Shrub encroachment is a well-documented phenomenon affecting many of the world’s drylands. The alteration of vegetation structure and species composition can lead to changes in local microclimate and soil properties which in turn affect carbon cycling. The objectives of this paper were to quantify differences in air temperatures, soil carbon, …

Microbial transport and soil integrity in drylands

Dryland soils are particularly vulnerable to erosion because of low plant cover and low organic matter which is linked with water availability and biological constraints. It is increasingly recognised that dryland soils can be managed to minimise erosion, which has benefits such as increasing soil fertility, carbon storage, and prevention …

Pastoralism and soil quality in the Kalahari

Land use change in the rangelands of Botswana is affecting soil properties. Pastoralism is the only viable livelihood for many rural poor in Botswana, and privatization of communal land is reducing the area of grazing available to those without land tenure. This has elevated stocking densities in communal areas, increasing …

Soil microbes of the Kalahari and the Pennines

Soil is a non-renewable resource which sustains life and delivers countless beneficial ecosystem services that we need and take for granted. The microbial diversity of soil dwarfs above-ground plant diversity, but is intimately linked with it. Whilst macroscopic ecology is a well-developed discipline that supports our efforts to manage and …

Niche partitioning of bacterial communities in biological crusts and soils under grasses, shrubs and trees in the Kalahari

The Kalahari of southern Africa is characterised by sparse vegetation interspersed with microbe-dominated biological soil crusts (BSC) which deliver a range of ecosystem services including soil stabilisation and carbon fixation. We characterised the bacterial communities of BSCs (0–1 cm depth) and the subsurface soil (1–2 cm depth) in an area typical of …