BIODESERTBiological feedbacks and ecosystem resilience under global change: a new perspective on dryland desertification
BIODESERT is a research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Community’s Horizon 2020 Programme (ERC Grant agreement n° 647038). This project was awarded to Prof. Fernando T. Maestre in the 2014 Consolidator Grant call, and it is being carried out at the Dryland Ecology and Global Change Lab of the Rey Juan Carlos University (Móstoles, Spain) between January 2016 and December 2020.
Changes in climate and land use (e.g., increased grazing pressure), are two main global environmental change and desertification drivers in drylands (arid, semi-arid and dry-subhumid areas). Understanding how dryland ecosystems will respond to them is crucial because they cover 45% of the world’s land surface and host over 38% of the human population. Drylands are also of paramount importance for biodiversity, as they host many endemic plant and animal species, and include about 20% of the major centers of global plant diversity and over 30% of the designated endemic bird areas.
Using a combination of field observations of dryland ecosystems gathered around the world, satellite data, mathematical and statistical modelling and manipulative experiments conducted in the field and under controlled conditions, the ERC-funded BIODESERT project aims to:
Test how changes in climate and grazing pressure determine spatio-temporal patterns in ecosystem functioning in global drylands
Assess how attributes of biological communities, such as biodiversity, modulate ecosystem resilience (i.e. their ability to respond to and recover from disturbances) to climate change and grazing pressure at various spatial scales (from local to global)
Test and develop early warning indicators of desertification
Forecast the onset of desertification and its ecological consequences under different climate and grazing scenarios
Because of the extent of dryland ecosystems globally, and the dependence of an important part of the world´s population on them, it is crucial to better understand how the provision of ecosystem services by drylands, which his strongly linked to ecosystem functions such as biomass production and nutrient cycling, is being affected by climate change and desertification. Land degradation in drylands already affects ~250 million people in the developing world, a number that is likely to increase as a consequence to climate change and human population growth. The topics being addressed by BIODESERT are thus of major societal importance, as the knowledge generated by the project can help to improve human livelihoods in drylands worldwide, and by doing so to safeguard the sustainability of our planet.
The BIODESERT global survey
A key task of the project is the BIODESERT global survey, a large co-operative field survey aiming to establish a network of monitoring plots among dryland areas of the globe to evaluate how simultaneous changes in climate and grazing pressure affect both biotic attributes (of above- and belowground communities, including vascular plants, bacteria, fungi, protists and other soil fauna) and ecosystem multifunctionality (i.e. the provision of several ecosystem processes simultaneously) in global drylands. With this survey we aim to have a truly global set of field plots sampled with the same protocols encompassing most of aridity/grazing pressure conditions that can be found in global drylands nowadays.
The BIODESERT survey is coordinated by Prof. Fernando T. Maestre and the project team, who has previous experience in the setup, management and execution of large surveys such as BIODESERT; over the period 2006-2014 Prof. Maestre coordinated another large-scale survey in 236 drylands from six continents carried out during the development of the BIOCOM research project, funded by the Starting Grants program of the European Research Council.
As of July 2018, the BIODESERT consortium is formed by over 60 research groups (see the Collaborators tab for details) working in 26 different countries with dryland ecosystems (Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Niger, Palestine, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, USA and Venezuela), who have surveyed more than 300 dryland ecosystems in the field. We are currently planning and/or surveying additional sites in Portugal, Niger and Morocco, which should be completed by the end of 2018. Field data are being collected according to a standardized protocol, and all the soil and plant samples being collected are sent to the laboratories of the Rey Juan Carlos University for analyses.
Figure 1. Sites surveyed so far (black dots) or in progress (red dots) as per July 2018. At each site, three-four plots have been surveyed along a local grazing intensity gradient.
The BIODESERT global survey, the first of its kind, will provide invaluable information on how increases in aridity and grazing pressure, two major global change and desertification drivers in drylands, will affect the structure and functioning of dryland ecosystems worldwide. This survey is going beyond the state of the art in terms of its global coverage, number of field sites surveyed, plant/soil samples being collected and amount of data being generated. This unique survey and the data it is generating will allow us to test multiple questions at the edge of multiple research fronts, including community/ecosystem ecology, global change biology and desertification. These data will also be of particular interest for improving the management of grazing under climate change, something critical to attain global sustainability and key Millennium Development Goals, such as the eradication of poverty.
A dedicated Google Scholar page for the Project, with updated citations for the publications of the project, can be found here
Lafuente, A., M. A. Bowker, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, J. Durán, B. K. Singh & F. T. Maestre. Global drivers of methane oxidation and denitrifying gene distribution in drylands. Global Ecology and Biogeography (in press).
Le Bagousse-Pinguet, Y., S. Soliveres, N. Gross, R. Torices, M. Berdugo & F. T. Maestre. Phylogenetic, functional and taxonomic richness have both positive and negative effects on ecosystem multifunctionality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1815727116
Ye, J.-S., M. Delgado-Baquerizo, S. Soliveres & F. T. Maestre. Multifunctionality debt in global drylands linked to past biome and climate. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.14631
Moreno-Jiménez, E., C. Plaza, H. Saiz, R. Manzano, M. Flagmeier & F. T. Maestre. 2019. Aridity and reduced soil micronutrient availability in global drylands. Nature Sustainability, doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0262-x
Archer, S. D. J., K. C. Lee, T. Caruso, T. Maki, C. K. Lee, D. A. Cowan, F. T. Maestre & S. B. Pointing. 2019. Microbial dispersal limitation to isolated soil habitats in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Nature Microbiology, doi: 10.1038/s41564-019-0370-4
Gaitán, J. J., F. T. Maestre, G. Buono, D. Bran, A. J. Dougill, G. García Martínez, D. Ferrante, R. Guuroh, A. Lindstaeter, V. Massara, A. D. Thomas & G. Oliva. 2019. Biotic and abiotic drivers of topsoil organic carbon concentration in drylands have similar effects at regional and global scales. Ecosystems, doi: 10.1007/s10021-019-00348-y
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., R. Bardgett, P. Vitousek, F. T. Maestre, M. Williams , D. J. Eldridge, H. Lambers, A. Gallardo, O. Sala, S. Abades, F. Alfaro, A. A. Berhe, M. A. Bowker, C. Currier, N. Cutler, L. García-Velázquez, S. Hart, P. Hayes , Z.-Y. Hseu, M. Kirchmair, S. Neuhause , V. Peña, C. Pérez, S. C. Reed, F. Santos, C. Siebe, B. Sullivan, L. Weber-Grullon & N. Fierer. 2019. Changes in belowground biodiversity during ecosystem development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 116: 6891-6896. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1818400116
Berdugo, M., S. Soliveres, S. Kéfi & F. T. Maestre. 2019. The interplay between facilitation and habitat type drives spatial vegetation patterns in global drylands. Ecography 42: 755-767. doi: 10.1111/ecog.03795
Saiz, H., Y. Le Bagousse-Pinguet, N. Gross & F. T. Maestre. 2019. Intransitivity increases plant functional diversity by limiting dominance in drylands worldwide. Journal of Ecology 107: 240-252. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13018
Baldauf, S., M. Ladrón de Guevara, B. Tiejten & F. T. Maestre. 2018. Soil moisture dynamics under two rainfall frequency treatments drive early spring CO2 gas exchange of lichen-dominated biocrusts in central Spain. PeerJ 6: e5904, doi: 10.7717/peerj.5904
DeMalach, N., H. Saiz, E. Zaady & F. T. Maestre. 2019. Plant species-area relationships are determined by evenness, cover and spatial aggregation in drylands worldwide. Global Ecology and Biogeography 28: 290-299. doi: 10.1111/geb.12849
Dacal, M., M. A. Bradford, C. Plaza, F. T. Maestre & P. García-Palacios. 2019. Soil microbial respiration adapts to ambient temperature in global drylands. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3: 232–238. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0770-5
Berdugo, M., F. T. Maestre, S. Kéfi, N. Gross, Y. Le Bagousse-Pinguet & S. Soliveres. 2019. Aridity preferences alter the relative importance of abiotic and biotic drivers on plant species abundance in global drylands. Journal of Ecology 107: 190-202. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13006
Eldridge, D. J., F. T. Maestre, T. B. Koen & M. Delgado-Baquerizo. 2018. Australian dryland soils are acidic and nutrient-depleted, and have unique microbial communities compared with other drylands. Journal of Biogeography 45: 2803-2814. doi: 10.1111/jbi.13456
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., F. T. Maestre, D. J. Eldridge, M. A. Bowker, T. Jeffries & B. K. Singh. 2018. Biocrust-forming mosses mitigate the impact of aridity on soil microbial communities in drylands: observational evidence from three continents. New Phytologist 220: 824–835. doi: 10.1111/nph.15120
Ladrón de Guevara M., B. Gozalo, J. Raggio, A. Lafuente, M. Prieto & F. T. Maestre. 2018. Warming reduces the cover, richness and evenness of lichen-dominated biocrusts but promotes moss growth: Insights from an eight-year experiment. New Phytologist 220: 811–823. doi: 10.1111/nph.15000
Lafuente, A., M. Berdugo, M. Ladrón de Guevara, B. Gozalo & F. T. Maestre. 2018. Simulated climate change affects how biocrusts modulate water gains and desiccation dynamics after rainfall events. Ecohydrology 11: e1935. doi: 10.1002/eco.1935
García-Palacios, P., C. Escolar, M. Dacal, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, B. Gozalo, Victoria Ochoa & F. T. Maestre. 2018. Pathways regulating decreased soil respiration with warming in a biocrust-dominated dryland. Global Change Biology 24: 4645-4656. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14399
Plaza, C., C. Zaccone, K. Sawicka, A. M. Méndez, A. Tarquis, G. Gascó, E. A.G. Schuur & F. T. Maestre. 2018. Soil resources and element stocks in drylands to face global issues. Scientific Reports 8: 13788.
García-Palacios, P., N. Gross, J. Gaitán & F. T. Maestre. 2018. Climate mediates the biodiversity-ecosystem stability relationship globally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 115: 8400-8405. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1800425115
Zhao, Y., X. Wang, C. J. Novillo, P. Arrogante-Funes, R. Vázquez.Jiménez & F. T. Maestre. 2018. Albedo estimated from remote sensing correlates with ecosystem multifunctionality in global drylands. Journal of Arid Environments 157: 116-123. doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2018.05.010
García-Palacios, P., N. Gross, J. Gaitán & T. Maestre. Climate mediates the biodiversity-ecosystem stability relationship globally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA doi: 10.1073/pnas.1800425115
García-Palacios, P., C. Escolar, M. Dacal, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, B. Gozalo, Victoria Ochoa & T. Maestre. 2018. Pathways regulating decreased soil respiration with warming in a biocrust-dominated dryland. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.14399
Zhao, Y., X. Wang, C. J. Novillo, P. Arrogante-Funes, R. VázquezJiménez & T. Maestre. 2018. Albedo estimated from remote sensing correlates with ecosystem multifunctionality in global drylands. Journal of Arid Environments, doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2018.05.010
Saiz, H., Y. Le Bagousse-Pinguet, N. Gross & T. Maestre. 2018. Intransitivity increases plant functional diversity by limiting dominance in drylands worldwide. Journal of Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13018
Berdugo, M., T. Maestre, S. Kéfi, N. Gross, Y. Le Bagousse-Pinguet & S. Soliveres. 2018. Aridity preferences alter the relative importance of abiotic and biotic drivers on plant species abundance in global drylands. Journal of Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13006
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., T. Maestre, D. J. Eldridge, M. A. Bowker, T. Jeffries & B. K. Singh. 2018. Biocrust-forming mosses mitigate the impact of aridity on soil microbial communities in drylands: observational evidence from three continents. New Phytologist doi: 10.1111/nph.15120
Lafuente, A., M. Berdugo, M. Ladrón de Guevara, B. Gozalo & T. Maestre. 2018. Simulated climate change affects how biocrusts modulate water gains and desiccation dynamics after rainfall events. Ecohydrology, doi: 10.1002/eco.1935
Ladrón de Guevara M., B. Gozalo, J. Raggio, A. Lafuente, M. Prieto & T. Maestre. 2018. Warming reduces the cover, richness and evenness of lichen-dominated biocrusts but promotes moss growth: Insights from an eight-year experiment. New Phytologist, doi: 10.1111/nph.15000
Benavent-González, A., M. Delgado-Baquerizo, L. Fernández-Brun, B. K. Singh, T. Maestre & L. G. Sancho. Identity of plant, lichen and moss species connects with microbial abundance and soil functioning in maritime Antarctica. Plant and Soil 429:35–52. doi: 10.1007/s11104-018-3721-7
Saiz, H., J. Gómez-Gardeñes, J. P. Borda & T. Maestre. 2018. The structure of plant spatial association networks is linked to plant diversity in global drylands. Journal of Ecology 108: 1443-1453. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12935
Durán, J., M. Delgado-Baquerizo, A. J. Dougill, R. T. Guuroh, A. Linstädter, A. Thomas & T. Maestre. 2018. Temperature and aridity regulate spatial variability of soil multifunctionality in drylands across the globe. Ecology 99: 1184-1193. doi: 10.1002/ecy.2199
León-Sánchez, L., E. Nicolás, M. Goberna, I. Prieto, T. Maestre & J. I. Querejeta. 2018. Poor plant performance under simulated climate change is linked to mycorrhizal responses in a semiarid shrubland. Journal of Ecology 106: 960-976. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12888
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., D. J. Eldridge, T. Maestre, V. Ochoa, B. Gozalo, P. B. Reich & B. K. Singh. 2018. Aridity decouples C:N:P stoichiometry across multiple trophic levels in terrestrial ecosystems. Ecosystems 21: 459–468. doi: 10.1007/s10021-017-0161-9
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., D. J. Eldridge, T. Maestre, S. B. Karunaratne, P. Trivedi, T. Hengl, P. B. Reich & B. K. Singh. 2018. Response to comment on “Climate legacies drive global soil carbon stocks in terrestrial ecosystems”. Science Advances 4: eaat1296. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat1296
Manning, P. F. van der Plas, S. Soliveres, E. Allan, T. Maestre, G. Mace, M. Whittingham & M. Fischer. 2018. Redefining ecosystem multifunctionality. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2: 427–436. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0461-7
Cano-Díaz, C., P. Mateo, M. A. Muñoz-Martín & T. Maestre. 2018. Diversity of biocrust-forming cyanobacteria in a semiarid gypsiferous site from Central Spain. Journal of Arid Environments 151: 83-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2017.11.008
Ramirez, K. S., C. G. Knight, M. Hollander, F. Q. Brearley, B. Constantinides, A. Cotton, S. Creer, T. W. Crowther, J. Davison, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, E. Dorrepaal, D. R. Elliott, G. Fox, R. I. Griffiths, C. Hale, K. Hartman, A. Houlden, D. L. Jones, E. J. Krab, T. Maestre, K. L. McGuire, S. Monteux, C. H. Orr, W. H. van der Putten, I. S. Roberts, D. A. Robinson, J. D. Rocca, J. Rowntree, K. Schlaeppi, M. Shepherd, B. K. Singh, A. L. Straathof, J. M. Bhatnagar, C. Thion, M. G. A. van der Heijden & F. T. de Vries D. 2018. Detecting macroecological patterns in bacterial communities across independent studies of global soils. Nature Microbiology 3: 189–196. doi: 10.1038/s41564-017-0062-x
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., A. M. Oliverio, T. Brewer, A. Benavent-González, D. J. Eldridge, R. Bardgett, F. T. Maestre, B. K. Singh & N. Fierer. 2018. A global atlas of the dominant bacteria found in soil. Science 359: 320–325. doi: 10.1126/science.aap9516
Ochoa-Hueso, R., D. J. Eldridge, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, S. Soliveres, M. A. Bowker, N. Gross, Y. Le Bagousse-Pinguet, J. L. Quero, M. García-Gómez, E. Valencia, T. Arredondo, L. Beinticinco, D. Bran, A. Cea, D. Coaguila, A. J. Dougill, C. I. Espinosa, J. Gaitán, R. T. Guuroh, E. Gusman, J. R. Gutiérrez, R. M. Hernández, E. Huber-Sannwald, T. Jeffries, A. Linstädter, R. L. Mau, J. Monerris, A. Prina, E. Pucheta, I. Stavi, A. D. Thomas, E. Zaady, B. K. Singh & T. Maestre. 2018. Plant traits and fungal abundance drive fertile island formation in global drylands. Journal of Ecology 106: 242–253. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12871
Plaza, C., G. Gascó, A. M. Méndez, C. Zaccone & F. T. Maestre. Soil Organic Matter in Dryland Ecosystems. In: The Future of Soil Carbon, pp. 39-70. Ed. by C. García, P. Nannipieri & M. T. García. Academic Press, Londres. ISBN: 978-0-12-811687-6. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-811687-6.00002-X
Maestre, F. T., R. Solé & B. K. Singh. Microbial biotechnology as a tool to restore degraded drylands. Microbial Biotechnology 10: 1250–1253. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.12832
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., D. J. Eldridge, V. Ochoa, B. Gozalo, B. K. Singh & T. Maestre. 2017. Soil microbial communities drive the resistance of ecosystem multifunctionality to global change in drylands across the globe. Ecology Letters 20: 1295–1305. doi: 10.1111/ele.12826
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., A. Bissett, J. Eldridge, F. T. Maestre, J.-Z. He, J.-T. Wang, Y.-R. Liu, B. K. Singh & N. Fierer. 2017. Palaeoclimate explains a unique proportion of the global variation in soil bacterial communities. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1: 1339–1347. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0259-7
Yuan, Z. Y., F. Jiao, X. R. Shi, J. Sardans, T. Maestre, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, P. B. Reich & J. Peñuelas. 2017. Experimental and observational studies find contrasting soil nutrient responses to climate change. eLife 6: e23255. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23255
Gross, N., Y. Le Bagousse-Pinguet, P. Liancourt, M. Berdugo, N. J. Gotelli & T. Maestre. 2017. Functional trait diversity maximizes ecosystem multifunctionality. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1: 0132. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0132
Delgado-Baquerizo, M., D. J. Eldridge, T. Maestre, S. B. Karunaratne, P. Trivedi, T. Hengl, P. B. Reich & B. K. Singh. 2017. Climate legacies drive global soil carbon stocks in terrestrial ecosystems. Science Advances 3: e1602008. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602008
Maestre, F. T., D. J. Eldridge, S. Soliveres, S. Kéfi, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, M. A. Bowker, J. Gaitán, M. Berdugo, A. Gallardo, R. Lázaro & P. García-Palacios. Structure and functioning of dryland ecosystems in a changing world. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 47: 215-237. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-121415-032311
Maestre, F. T., D. J. Eldridge & S. Soliveres. A multifaceted view on the impacts of shrub encroachment. Applied Vegetation Science 19: 369–370. doi: 10.1111/avsc.12254
The core BIODESERT research team is formed by the following members, most of them belonging to the Dryland Ecology and Global Change Lab (DEGCL) at Rey Juan Carlos University or that have been affiliated to the lab in the past:
Fernando T. Maestre, Professor of Ecology, PI of BIODESERT and of the DEGCL
Tasks: Overall coordination and scientific direction of the project.
Miguel Berdugo Vega, postdoctoral researcher at DEGCL
In addition to the colleagues involved in the BIODESERT global survey, other colleagues are supporting different tasks of the project, who also has an international steering committee (SC) that provides advice on important topics and discuss with the PI any issues arising during the development of the project. These colleagues include:
Brajesh Singh, Australia, member of SC, bioinformatics and soil microbiology