Abstract Detail

Stress-tolerant mosses: adaptations to life on the edge, from genes to ecosystems

Tucker, Colin [1], Antoninka, Anita [2], Bowker, Matthew [2], Reed, Sasha [3].

Does assisted migration make sense for the restoration of dryland biocrust mosses?

Bryophytes represent an important component of late successional biological soil crusts (biocrusts) on the Colorado Plateau and across the US Intermountain West. Biocrust restoration is a rapidly growing field of ecological restoration because of the importance biocrusts have for critical ecosystem functions, namely soil stabilization and fertility, that are foundational for ecosystem rehabilitation. Because bryophytes in biocrusts provide high levels of these ecosystem services, and because greenhouse studies have demonstrated that under optimal conditions biocrust mosses can grow rapidly, there has been significant effort towards developing methods for restoring biocrust mosses. Yet at the same time, a growing number of studies have demonstrated that climate warming may have a more significant negative effect on the moss component of biocrusts than on cooccurring cyanobacteria and lichen species. This result raises two big questions about how to best approach biocrust (and especially bryophyte) restoration in the face of a rapidly warming climate. First, should we target moss biocrust restoration at all if warming may erase any benefits of that work, that is, should we focus instead on biocrust components that are more likely to withstand future warming? Second, are there methods for conducting moss biocrust restoration that can enhance the resistance and/or resilience of the restored communities to future warming? In this talk, we will present results from multiple greenhouse and field studies and restoration trials addressing climate adaptive biocrust restoration, with particular focus on the bryophyte community. In the first two studies, biocrusts from 7 different sites from all the major US deserts, and spanning the full suite of conditions across the 3 main climate gradients (MAT, MAP, and precipitation seasonality), were grown using standard restoration approaches in a greenhouse trial, and and outdoor common garden, to evaluate the establishment of biocrusts under altered precipitation and temperature regimes. In the third study, biocrusts from the Mojave, Sonoran, and Colorado Plateau deserts were used in a large scale biocrust cultivation and restoration trial, with specific emphasis on development of climate-smart techniques for biocrust restoration. In both studies, we find mixed support for the combination of habitat modification and assisted migration as tools for biocrust restoration, but demonstrate strong evidence that habitat modification in the form of shading is the best tool for facilitating establishment of biocrust mosses, with little evidence supporting assisted migration from warmer climates as a tool for moss restoration.

1 - Attending in personal capacity
2 - Northern Arizona University, School of Forestry, Flagstaff, AZ, United States
3 - USGS Southwest Biological Science Center

assisted migration
climate smart restoration
Biological Soil Crust

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Number: C5014
Abstract ID:1033
Candidate for Awards:None

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