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Abstract Detail

Bryology and Lichenology

Haughland, Diane L. [1], Akbarlou, Mousa [2], Carlyle, Cameron [3], Lewis, Megan [4], Azeria, Ermias [1].

A Tale of Scales: Correlates of Alberta Biocrust Cover and Composition.

Biological soil crusts (BSCs) are composed of lichens, bryophytes, algae, and microbes. They affect grassland function, health and resilience. Despite global recognition of their importance, the role of BSCs in Alberta’s temperate grasslands mostly have been ignored. We lack understanding of how BSCs vary across large-scale gradients such as latitude, annual temperature, and seasonal precipitation. We also lack research on how fine-scale factors such as soil bulk density, soil pH, or co-occurring vascular plant composition correlate with biocrust cover and composition. Here we report on two separate studies addressing these knowledge gaps for the cryptogamic portion of Alberta’s grassland BSCs (largely the macrolichens, bryophytes and pteridophytes). We conducted a fine-scale, plot-based (0.25m2) study of biocrust correlates at the Mattheis Research Ranch (near Brooks, Alberta) across a variety of soil types and vegetation communities. We measured soil carbon, pH, bulk density, vascular plant cover and diversity, lichen and bryophyte cover and diversity, and biomass of litter, forbs, graminoids and shrubs in plots along 18 transects across the ranch. To examine larger-scale correlates, we used data collected by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) between 2009 and 2017. The ABMI systematically collected data on the flora, fauna, habitat, and anthropogenic footprint at 300 sites in the Grassland Natural Region. We used those data to explore large-scale (1 km2) landscape and local-scale (150 m2) predictors of biocrust species richness and community composition. These studies represent a reference for understanding Alberta’s cryptogamic biocrusts, providing the context for ongoing manipulative experiments exploring the resilience and response of BSCs across Alberta’s grasslands to simulated climate change and grazing regimes.

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1 - Royal Alberta Museum, Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, 9810 103a Ave, Edmonton, AB, T5J 0G2, Canada
2 - 903-11020 53 Ave, Edmonton, AB, T6H 0S4, Canada
3 - University of Alberta, Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Sciences, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2P5, Canada
4 - University of Alberta, Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Sciences, 4-10 Agriculture/Forestry Centre, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2P5, Canada

biological soil crust
temperate grassland
Selaginella densa
spatial scale.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: BL, Bryology/Lichenology combined session
Location: Tucson G/Starr Pass
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
Time: 2:00 PM
Number: BL002
Abstract ID:1043
Candidate for Awards:None


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