The nutrient plasticity of moss-dominated crust in the urbanized Sonoran Desert

Rebecca Ball, Jessica Alvarez Guevara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Aims: In deserts, moss-dominated crusts may play an important role in terrestrial-aquatic and aboveground-belowground connections. Despite its importance, very little is known about moss’s role in biogeochemical cycles and how nutrient pulses (e.g., from N deposition in air pollution) will affect their functional significance as an integrator of nutrient cycling in deserts.

Methods: Moss and soil were sampled from 15 sites in the Sonoran Desert in and around Phoenix, covering the city core subject to N deposition and rural areas to the east and west. Samples were analyzed for C, N, P and micronutrient content to compare moss stoichiometry over a gradient of soil resource availability.

Results: Moss %N and %P were positively correlated with soil N and P. Thus, sites in the city core subject to N deposition tended to have higher soil N and therefore higher moss N than the sites outside the city core. Micronutrient content varied with sampling region but was not related to soil content.

Conclusions: Results suggest that moss can take up excess N,, but overall coverage of moss is lower in the city, limiting its ability to act as a N sink.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-235
Number of pages11
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Aboveground-belowground interactions
  • Desert soils
  • Moss
  • Sonoran Desert
  • Stoichiometry
  • Terrestrial-aquatic interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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