2013 for recent reviews). Research on all aspects of biocrust biology and their influence on ecosystems, traditionally performed by researchers in a few countries, such as the USA, Australia, Israel, and Germany has become a truly global research endeavor, with the emergence of many groups in countries such as China, Spain, and Mexico (Castillo-Monroy and Maestre 2011). The biocrust research community is more interconnected than ever before, as evidenced by Androgen Receptor Antagonist the multiple collaborations
that are being established among the different groups, by the ongoing preparation of a new book on the status of the field featuring authors from all the continents (Weber et al. 2014), and by the recent establishment of an international series of conferences focusing on biocrusts. The second of these conferences, “Second International Workshop on Biological Soil Cruts: Biological Soil Crusts in a Changing World (Biocrust 2013)” took place in Madrid on 10–13 selleck chemicals llc June 2013. This meeting brought together over 100 researchers from all the continents, who shared during 3 days the results of the most recent research on this ecosystem, and had the opportunity to discuss the status of basic and applied research on biocrusts, and further to start new research initiatives and collaborations to further develop this field further. This special issue includes 13 reviews and primary research articles that derive from communications presented
at the Biocrust 2013 conference, and that reflect the wide variety of topics that biocrust researchers are studying worldwide. The amount of information on CX-6258 biocrusts and their effects on ecosystems currently available has recently fostered their use to test ecological theories, particularly at community selleck compound and ecosystem levels (see Bowker et al. 2010a; Maestre et al. 2012 for examples). In the first article of this issue, Bowker et al. (2014) review how biocrusts can be used as a model system in community, landscape, and ecosystem ecology. These authors discuss the main features of biocrusts that make them such a useful model system to study multiple
topics in these disciplines, and exemplify how the use of biocrusts in this way can provide novel insights and refine existing theory. Büdel et al. (2014) present the European research initiative ‘‘Soil Crust International’’ (SCIN; http://www.soil-crust-international.org/), a project focusing on the biodiversity of biocrusts and on functional aspects in their specific environments in four sites located along a wide European gradient (Tabernas, Spain; Hochtor-Großglockner, Austria; Gynge Alvar, Sweden; and Homburg, Germany). In this article, the authors present some preliminary results from the project, which already point out the importance of protecting biocrusts and the development of appropriate ways to manage the biodiversity of these communities along the latitudinal and altitudinal gradient studied.