Novel climates affect the visible components of biocrust communities but not associated soil bacteria
These data files represent the dull data set from the manuscript with the same title. Reference will be given when published. 1. Drylands rely on biological soil crusts (biocrusts) for key ecosystem functions including soil stability, biogeochemical cycling, and water capture. Understanding how biocrusts adapt to climate change is critical to understanding how dryland ecosystems will function. We investigated the sensitivity of biocrusts to experimentally imposed novel climates to track changes in productivity and stability. 2. We established three common gardens along an elevational-climate gradient on the Colorado Plateau. Mature biocrusts were collected from each site and reciprocally transplanted intact. Over twenty months we monitored visible species composition and cover, chlorophyll a, and the composition of soil bacterial communities using high throughput sequencing. 3. Biocrusts from all sources had higher cover and stability in the high elevation garden. Later successional taxa decreased cover in low elevation gardens. Visible community composition was influenced by both source and transplant environment, whereas soil bacterial community composition retained fidelity to the source. Responses of the visible and soil bacterial components of the biocrust community were not coupled. 4. Our results suggest biocrust communities are sensitive to climate change, and loss of species and function can be expected, while associated soil bacteria may be buffered against rapid change.