Journal of Arid Land


As one of the most important biological factors that maintain the stability of the largest fixed and semi-fixed desert in China, the Gurbantunggut Desert, the biological soil crusts (BSCs) develop well and play critical ecological roles in the desert ecosystem. In this paper, we briefly summarize our research findings since 2002 including species composition, distribution pattern and ecological functions of BSCs in the desert. Our results indicate abundant species diversity of BSCs in the Gurbantunggut Desert in comparison to other deserts in China. At the scales of sand dune or whole desert, the distribution patterns of BSCs are location-specific. The existence of BSCs in this desert could: (1) accelerate the formation of desert soil and the weathering of minerals; (2) accumulate organic matter in surface soil through related species in soil crusts; (3) enhance the abilities of sand surface to resist wind erosion; (4) influence seed germination of vascular plants; and (5) enhance the production of dew deposition on sandy soil surface.


biological soil crusts; species diversity; location-specific distribution; desert ecosystem

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