4th International Workshop on Biological Soil Crusts


25-30 August 2019, North Stradbroke Island (Minjerrabah), Queensland , Australia

The Fourth International Workshop on Biological Soil Crusts (BIOCRUST4) will bring together scientists, academics and practitioners interested in the science, art and ecology of biological soil crusts (biocrusts). Biocrusts contain some of Earth’s oldest living organisms, cover large areas of the globe, have profound effects on ecosystem properties and functions, and are increasingly being used as model systems to study a range of ecological processes.

BIOCRUST4 is to provide a forum for the productive exchange of ideas and the forging of new collaborations in biocrust research, including the establishment of a Biocrust Network and an International Biocrust Society. 

BIOCRUST4, follows successful workshops held first in Germany (2010), Spain (2013), and a record attendance in Moab, Utah, USA (2016). Attendees at the workshop held in Moab chose Moreton Bay Research Station (MBRS) located on North Stradbroke Island (Queensland, Australia) as the location of the BIOCRUST4. Situated just off the coast of Brisbane, The University of Queensland’s Research Station provides excellent conference facilities in a relaxed community atmosphere with the picturesque backdrop of Moreton Bay. There will be the opportunity to immerse in local indigenous culture, see koalas, wallabies, possums, dugongs, dolphins and whales, or explore pristine white sandy beaches, catch a wave, snorkel or dive the clear waters.

This meeting will bring together international scientists interested in biocrusts, to exchange ideas and results, discuss possible new theories and approaches, and to provide a forum to facilitate the collaboration among the growing international community of scientists working with biocrusts. Conference organizers will assist and encourage students, and researchers from developing nations, to attend. To facilitate the exchange of ideas, BIOCRUST 4 will include invited plenary talks, contributed oral sessions, oral poster sessions, field trips, and several social activities.

The 21st International Symposium of Cyanophyte/Cyanobacteria precedes BIOCRUST4 to be held at MBRS from the 11-16th August 2019. Delegates attending both conferences please apply special registration rate. 

Organising Committee

  • Wendy Williams (Chair) - School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland
  • David Eldridge (Co-chair) - School of Biological and Earth Sciences, University of New South Wales
  • Glenn McGregor (Co-chair) - Queensland Department of Environment and Science
  • Susanne Schmidt - The University of Queensland
  • Nicole Robinson - The University of Queensland
  • Lisa Xian - The University of Queensland
  • Barbara Sendall - Queensland Health
  • Karen Reardon - Queensland Health
  • Miriam Munoz-Rojas - University of New South Wales
  • Samantha Travers - University of New South Wales
  • Angela Chilton - University of New South Wales
  • Liz Smith - Function coordinator

The organisers are committed to hosting an accessible, inclusive, and diverse conference. We encourage people from across all genders, race, ages, LGBTQI status, as well as levels of study to participate. The scientific program will comprise a range of speakers from around the world with and includes an Early Career session. Please view our Registration Page for information on financial assistance. Find out more about conference accessibility. For families and people traveling with children, please get in touch with organisers for information on conference support and accommodation options.

Biocrust 5 (2021), Biocrust 6 (2023), Biocrust 7 (2025) proposals

Three excellent proposals to host Biocrust 5, 6 and 7 (China (PDF, 296.2 KB), Italy (PDF, 1.2 MB) and Mexico (PDF, 828.1 KB)) were presented at Biocrust 4. The delegates who attended Biocrust 4 voted to hold the next three workshops biennially (2021, 2023, 2025). The order for proposed venues would be voted on by everyone including those who could not attend Biocrust 4. Please read the proposals carefully taking into consideration limitations the host may have for holding it in a particular year or the time of year. You will receive an email with the link to your vote which must be completed by Monday 30th September (USA time zone). Results will be published by email and on this page no later than Monday 7th October.

Full proposals


Email: biocrust4@uq.edu.au

BIOCRUST4 topics will encompass:

  • Disturbance and restoration
  • Land management, tools and applications
  • Landscape and community ecology
  • New developments in trait ecology
  • Interactions with vascular plants
  • Global environmental change
  • Ecosystem structure and function
  • Mapping and monitoring
  • Diversity, ecology, and biogeography
  • Taxonomy and physiology of biocrust constituents

Proposed Program:

Sunday 25
  Session Monday 26 August Tuesday 27 August  Wednesday 28 August Thursday 29 August Friday 30 August

MBRS Bag drop (all day)


(from midday)


Registration (3–5pm)

Breakfast (included)
Morning 1 Plenary talks Plenary talks FREE DAY for ACTIVITIES Plenary talks Plenary talks
Morning 2 Contributed talks Contributed talks Contributed talks Contributed talks
  Lunch (included) Lunch (included)
Afternoon 1 Contributed talks, posters Early career talks Contributed talks Contributed talks
Afternoon 2 Contributed talks Lake visit and talks Posters Symposium close and depart island
Welcome reception
  Dinner (opt in) Symposium dinner (5.00–10.30pm)
Evening activity (optional)


The University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia will serve as the institutional host of BIOCRUST4. With a growing interest in the field of biocrust research, The University of Queensland welcomed the opportunity to host researchers from around the world working in an area that is of utmost importance in Australia where the effects of droughts, floods, fire and climate change put increasing pressures on land-use and management. Here both terrestrial and aquatic cyanobacteria are drought tolerant with specialist survival mechanisms that enables them to withstand climatic extremes and significantly contribute to their ecosystems.


David Eldridge is a Senior Principal Research Scientist at the Office of Environment and Heritage, and a Professor at the University of NSW, Sydney. His work focuses on the management of drylands, in particular, how vertebrate grazing, soil disturbing animals, biological soil crusts and shrub encroachment influence soil and ecological processes.

Wendy Williams is an Honorary Fellow at the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland. Her research centres on microbial biobanking in mine rehabilitation and long-term grazing and fire trials in the northern Australian savannah. Her work seeks to harness naturally occurring microbial communities to generate bioavailable nitrogen and to explore the benefits of cyanobacterial biofilm regeneration following fire.

Glenn McGregor is a Principal Scientist of Water Planning Ecology, Department of Environment and Science who is a specialist in the taxonomy and ecology of cyanobacteria and microalgae. Glenn leads state-wide aquatic ecosystem monitoring and assessment activities and provide scientific support and advice to the government, its clients, and to the general public on aquatic ecosystem assessment and related management issues.

To Australia

The main entry point is Brisbane International Airport with Gold Coast International Airport being the alternative port of entry. VISAS: All visitors to Australia including conference delegates require a visa. Please go to the Australian Government website to apply. Warning: do not use any pathway other than the official Australian government websites. If you have any questions or need assistance we can guide you through the process. Please allow 30 days for processing.

To North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island is reached via a 40 minute ferry ride via the port of Cleveland. Cleveland is 30 mins from Brisbane city, 40 mins from Brisbane Airport and approximately 1 hour from the Gold Coast Airport. There are three main towns on the Island (Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout) and the conference will be held in the town of Dunwich at the Moreton Bay Research Station, which is located 600 m from the passenger ferry terminal. Information and maps will be provided at registration. 


Transfer options from the airports to the ferry terminal at Cleveland include rail, shuttle bus services and car. Island vehicle ferries and water taxi are the two transfer modes from Cleveland to North Stradbroke Island. Bookings with Stradbroke Ferries must be made in advance for those people intending to drive. General information about options (including public transport link) can be found in the useful links below. 

Island Accommodation

Dormitory accommodation at Moreton Bay Research StationDue to the distance from Dunwich to the other towns, we encourage all participants  to stay at the research station. This is basic share accommodation at approximately $30 per person per night. Accommodation configurations are detailed on the Registration page and the MBRS website. Accommodation at MBRS must be booked via the Registration page.

Other accommodation: Holiday home rentals (that you can organise to share with friends) are available in Dunwich through various holiday companies such as AirBnB and local agents (see below). These are limited so book early. The majority of motel or apartment-style accommodation is located between Dunwich and Point Lookout. Special conference discount pricing is available from the resorts/motels listed below.  This accommodation must be booked by the delegate so please make contact directly with the provider by email and when booking mention the conference to obtain discount pricing. Bus transport to and from accommodation to the conference venue at Dunwich is available.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and morning and afternoon teas are catered at the MBRS and are included in the registration fee. The Welcome Dinner and Conference Dinner are also included in the registration fee. Breakfast will be the only meal provided at MBRS on the Free Day (activities day) with your own arrangements for lunch and dinner on Free Day. Monday and Tuesday dinners will be available in an opt-in basis, at a nearby seaside yacht club where people can relax over a drink while watching the sunset over the ocean. 

Useful Links

Airport Shuttle Bus Services:
General Transport and Accommodation Links:

Mid-conference activities to include:

  • Wednesday will be a free day with optional activities such as:
  • Whale watching (half-day boat) and Surfers Paradise shop-sightsee tour (Gold Coast)*
  • Traditional owners land and sea culture half day tour
  • Traditional owners educational tour learning Goorie Law and Science
  • Surf lessons (2 hours) for beginners to advanced (wetsuits provided)
  • Scuba diving and snorkelling (half and full day, all gear provided)
  • Inland fresh lakes trip (includes snorkelling and swimming)
  • Island tour including local history, whale watching and beaches (with guides)
  • Point Lookout: white sandy beaches, lookout walks, whale spotting, cafes, magical scenery!

*Book with registration:

Indicative costs will be posted soon, bookings essential for all organised tours

Central Australian Conference and Reef Tour

This will be an organised group tour (5 days) that will commence at Uluru (Ayers Rock) and finish in Alice Springs. Delegates participating in this tour will have the option of flying to Cairns at the end of the tour with reef and rainforest tours available (2 days). More information soon.

Download the Central Australian Conference and Reef Tour flyer (PDF, 711.6 KB)

Post conference ‘Biocrust Nerd Tour’ 

4-5 days (1-5 Sept 2019), central NSW or western QLD (depending on interest).

Please register your interest in these tours via email to biocrust4@uq.edu.au

Useful links

Conference registration details are provided in the table below. All prices are in Australian dollars. There is additional information regarding accommodation available on the travel tab.


Due Date


Cost per person

Early Bird Registration*

31 May

Includes: Welcome Dinner, Conference Dinner, Breakfast, m-tea, lunch, a-tea**


Student Registration*

15 July

Includes: Welcome Dinner, Conference Dinner, Breakfast, m-tea, lunch, a-tea**


Full Registration*

15 July

Includes: Welcome Dinner, Conference Dinner, Breakfast, m-tea, lunch, a-tea**


Bunkroom share accommodation (onsite)

with registration

shared ensuite suits 4 people or suit couple (5 nights)***

$130 pp (five nights)

Bunkroom share accommodation (onsite)

with registration

Shared rooms suit 4 people shared external bathrooms***

$108 pp (five nights)


Little Ship Club dinners

with registration

Monday, Tuesday Bistro style informal dinners, own choice

Opt-in (pay on night)

Mid-conference whale watching tour (full day)

With registration


Wednesday pp includes all transfers



Central Australian Tour (details on tours page)

Deposit with registration

Tour to depart Sunday return via Great Barrier Reef optional extra


$200 (deposit amount)

Note: If you are registering for both conferences a special registration rate of $450 will apply for each conference.

* Registration closing date is Monday 15th July 2019. No refunds on cancellations after 15 July 2019.

**Includes full hot breakfasts (5 days), lunches, morning and afternoon teas (4 days), allowing for the mid-week free day. Welcome Dinner (Sunday pm), Conference Dinner (Thursday pm). All venues will cater for dietary needs.

***The shared accommodation is onsite and groups who want to share will be catered for on first booked basis. Others will be organised into seperate male and female quarters or couples where requested in their own ensuite rooms (second level, lift and stair access). Bathrooms are shared between two rooms. Seperate male and female bathrooms are located central to the rooms on the ground floor. There are only a limited number of rooms available, so bookings will be taken until rooms are filled. Offsite accommodation will need to be booked independently.

Please note children (under 15) cannot be accommodated in the bunk rooms however please enquire about some additional self-contained accommodation available adjacent to the research station. Families and individuals working during the conference will be given first preference. Price and availability on application.

Register for biocrust4

Financial assistance

Conference organizers are actively fundraising to provide support to assist colleagues and students who would otherwise be unable to join us at the conference because of cost. Although we would like to help everyone who would like to attend, financial assistance will be limited. Assistance is available to professionals and students on the basis of the scientific merit demonstrated by their abstract and need. Deadline for submitting a request for financial assistance to be advised. The review committee will notify recipients and non-recipients of its decisions at a date to be posted.

Support may be provided in the following categories: 

  1. Registration fee waiver,
  2. Fee waiver and travel support,
  3. Fee waiver, travel, and accommodation.

You will need to provide a Statement of need: Please briefly explain why you need financial assistance (for example, my department has no funding to support travel and I would otherwise be unable to attend) and how attending the conference would benefit your research (<350 words).

For anyone needing a Letter of Invitation to attend the conference or if you have questions about the process for requesting financial assistance, please contact us.


Abstract submissions now closed.

Investigators are invited to submit an abstract for consideration as a standard talk (12 minutes with 3 minutes for questions), lightning talk (5 minutes with 3 minutes for questions), or poster presentation. Please prepare an abstract of 300 words or less that includes a brief introduction to the topic, the methods and approach used, the results acquired, and a brief description of their implications. Abstracts will be reviewed by the scientific committee and evaluated for scientific merit and their contribution to the field of research.

Please include the presentation’s title, the name and affiliation of all authors, and the contact information for the presenter based on the format (see link below). 

  • Abstracts will be accepted until Thursday 28th February 2019.
  • Decisions will be announced no later than the 31st May 2019.
  • Presenters must accept and register by 15th June 2019

Please submit abstracts to biocrust4@uq.edu.au with subject line ‘abstract submission’ and include your preference for standard talk, lightening talk or poster presentation.


  • Text only, no tables and no figures, no separate list of references
  • Length: maximum 300 words Citation and abstract may not exceed one page
  • Arial, 11 pt, regular, 1.5 spaced
  • Latin taxa names in italics
  • to be submitted as a word document.

Fonts and paragraph formats

  • Title: Arial, 14pt, bold, single spaced
  • Author(s): Arial, 12pt, regular; single spaced Name1 (Surname), Given name (First name/s), Name 2, Given name & Name 3, Given name. Name of the presenter to be underlined
  • Address(es): Arial, 11 pt, regular; (for all)
  • Contact author’s e-mail: Arial, 11 pt, regular

No other formatting acceptable.

Please consider making a charitable gift to support scholarships for colleagues and students who would otherwise be unable to attend this important meeting. Traveling to Australia is costly and we have received a large number of requests for financial assistance that we are not able to meet. We need your help!

Download the Exhibitor and Sponsor brochure (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Thank you for considering a gift. If you have questions, please email biocrust4@uq.edu.au.


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