Restoring post-fire ecosystems with biocrusts: Living, photosynthetic soil surfaces

Miriam Muñoz-Rojas, Nathali Maria Machado de Lima, Sonia Chamizo, Matthew A. Bowker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Changes in climate are expected to alter fire regimes, with critical implications in soils and ecosystems. Biological soil crusts or biocrusts are communities of photosynthetic organisms (cyanobacteria, bryophytes, lichens, and/or microalgae) and associated bacteria, archaea, and fungi that have important ecological and biological roles. Recent research has demonstrated that biocrust cyanobacteria and fire mosses can ameliorate some of the most serious problems in burned areas - soil erosion, hydrological dysfunction, and flooding soils. Novel approaches for ex-situ cultivation and inoculation are now being developed, opening untapped possibilities for using these communities in large-scale post-fire restoration. In this review, we highlight the important roles of biocrusts and discuss their potential for improving soil fertility and stability in post-fire ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100273
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Science and Health
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Biological soil crust
  • Bryophytes
  • Burnt soil
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Fire moss
  • Soil erosion
  • Wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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