Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Respect the Soil Crust

Of all nature's wonders that capture our attention, it's easy to take our soil for granted. But a new study reaffirms the importants of cryptobiotic soil crusts.  As the study explains, "organisms fuse with soil particles, stabilizing desert crusts and forming fragile peaks in the soil that influence a variety of processes to allocate important resources."

KCET published a great article on these crusts and explaining the important functions they play in desert ecosystems.  These layers take many years to form, and are very fragile.  As we disturb and destroy desert soils, we are turning back the clock on an ecological fabric that could take decades to repair itself.
The dark striations on the soil in the center area of the photo is a patch of cryptobiotic crust in the Ivanpah Valley, where First Solar plans to build its Silver State South solar power project.

2 comments:

  1. I've written a couple of articles on Biological Soil Crusts sometime back. One of them I referenced Sweden, even though by Soil Crust definition technicalities Sweden would be considered as having Biological Soil Crusts which are consdered by definition only a Dryland Phenomena. Yet the very same componants and mechanisms work here as well and to the reader they more fully illustrate just what the various bacteria, fungus and Lichens actually do for the environment no matter where it may be located.

    Here are a couple of links you should bookmark:

    http://www.soilcrust.org/

    http://geodermatophilia.blogspot.se/

    And also this interesting site where there is a company attempting to repair biological soil crust damage with their products. The Company is called TerraDerm.

    TerraDerm Technology - Restoring Soils on a Global Scale




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    1. Thank you, Timeless! I am by no means an expert on these things, which probably makes me more enamored with the people that are...such as people with an entire website devoted to soil crusts! awesome.

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