INTEGRATING BIOCRUSTS INTO THE FIELD OF RESTORATION ECOLOGY
Biocrusts are complex communities of moss, lichen and cyanobacteria that inhabit the soil surface in drylands. Biocrusts are critical components of dryland systems that stabilize soil, regulate water and nutrient cycling, buffer soil temperatures, and influence the establishment of vascular plants. Biocrusts are particularly sensitive to compressive forces and once disturbed are slow to reestablish making the negative effects of biocrust disturbance on ecosystem function long-lasting. Restoration efforts rarely include or consider biocrusts even when they are known to have been present before the initial disturbance. In this presentation, Mandy will provide an overview of biocrust function and discuss current research within the field of restoration ecology involving biocrusts.