Biological soil crusts protect the soil, accelerate the rate of soil formation and contribute to biogeochemical nutrient cycling via fixation of atmospheric carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Although, visually, they are among the least impressive communities in nature, they form a vital part of natural cycles. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry have now created a world map showing the occurrence of biological soil crusts. With the help of this map and predictions on the impact of global change, the scientists conclude that 25 to 40 percent of the world’s soil crusts will have disappeared by 2070. The journal Nature Geosciences reports on the study in its march issue.
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