Hillslope Geodiversity Impact on Biocrusts’ Biogeochemical Functions

Eli Zaady, Ilan Stavi, Vladislav Dubinin, Nina Kamennaya, Hiam Abu-Glion, Shimshon Shuker, Hezi Yizhaq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geodiversity integrates physical parameters such as geological, geomorphological, and pedological components. It represents the abiotic diversity of the earth surface layer. It incorporates geological (bedrocks and mineral sediments), geomorphological (geography, land surface formations, physical processes), pedological (soils), and hydrological characteristics. Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) play an essential role in regulating the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nitrogen. Their ability is dependent on habitat conditions, composition, and cover percentage of the ground surface, all of which are affected by geodiversity. This study’s objective was to assess the effects of geodiversity on the biogeochemical functions of biocrusts by regulating the soil water dynamics and the subsequent impact on readily available nitrogen and carbon. Hillslope geodiversity is determined by the geodiversity found in the stone cover on the ground surface and in the stone content throughout the soil profile, as well as by the soil profile thickness of the underlying bedrock. We hypothesized that in dry environments, the physical conditions in high-geodiversity hillslopes, compared to low-geodiversity hillslopes, positively affect the soil water budget, which would affect the biocrusts and their readily available nitrogen and carbon. The results showed higher soil moisture content in the heterogeneous hillslopes. The ammonium and labile organic carbon in the biocrusts were more substantial in the heterogeneous than in the homogeneous hillslopes, while soil protein, nitrite, and soil organic matter were similar. We suggest that the comparatively high soil moisture content in the heterogeneous hillslopes stimulates biocrust community activities and increases the readily available nitrogen and carbon, thus improving the survival of shrubs in these ecosystems under long-term drought conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1983
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • N-NH
  • bio-geodiversity
  • biogeochemical cycles
  • biological soil crusts
  • labile organic carbon
  • stoniness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Hillslope Geodiversity Impact on Biocrusts’ Biogeochemical Functions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this