Journal article

Testing a model of biological soil crust succession

Cassia F Read, Jane Elith, Peter A Vesk



QUESTION: Biocrust composition is important for the diversity, structure and function of dryland ecosystems globally, but there is no universally applicable model of biocrust succession, and the models that do exist may not apply everywhere. We ask: (1) how do biocrust species vary in their response to time since livestock exclusion (Time) across environmental gradients; (2) is there evidence for ruderal, mid‐ and late successional responses to Time in biocrust species; (3) can exploration of species attributes within response groups reveal potential mechanisms for biocrust succession; and (4) do our data support an existing standard conceptual model of biocrust succession described in the l..

View full abstract


Awarded by ARC

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank W. Morris for help in developing model code; D. Meagher, A. Downing and J. Elix for help with species identifications; B. Weber and M. Bowker whose comments considerably improved this manuscript; C. Moxham, M. White and personnel from Greening Australia, DPI and the North Central CMA for assistance with site selection; F. Pereoglou for field assistance; landholders and Parks Victoria for access to properties; and Birchip Cropping Group for assistance with landholder engagement. This project was supported by the Holsworth Wildlife Research Fund, North Central and Mallee CMAs through NHT and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, and the Victorian State Government initiative 'Our Rural Landscapes'. JE was supported by ARC grant FT0991640 and the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis, and PV by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Environmental Decisions and National Environmental Research Program-Environmental Decisions.