Bioprotection

Some animals and plants protect the surfaces they colonise from weathering and erosion. Plant roots bind soils, lichens umbrella buildings from insolation, moisture and pollutants, and even microorganisms can have similar effects. See here for other bioprotection studies from a range of environments.

Such bioprotective effects are one type of interaction between organisms and the abiotic (the ‘non-living’) environment studied in the field of biogeomorphology. Biogeomorphologists are interested in how organisms (animals, plants and microorganisms) create and alter landforms by influencing weathering and erosion, and the transport and deposition of sediment. These processes also have feedbacks to organisms, having consequences for ecology and environmental management. Ecologists are interested in these kinds of interactions, commonly referred to as physical ecosystem engineering.