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Biological soil crusts: their history, diversity, functional roles and threats (co-organized)
Convener: Bettina Weber  | Co-Conveners: Federico Rossi , Jayne Belnap , Emilio Rodriguez-Caballero 
 / Wed, 26 Apr, 08:30–10:00

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts), which consist of cyanobacteria, algae, lichens, and bryophytes with heterotrophic bacteria, archaea and fungi in varying proportions, have already been a relevant part of Precambrian ecosystems and today form a key element in dryland regions throughout the world.
In this session we ask for contributions on the diversity and distribution patterns of biocrusts across continents and different climatic zones, both under current and historic conditions. This session also covers contributions on the functional roles of biocrusts in local to global processes, as e.g., nutrient and water cycling, trace gas release, erosion, and vascular plant germination and growth. Finally, responses of biocrusts upon today’s threats, as land use and climate change, should be included in this session.