A Field Guide to Biological Soil Crusts of Western U.S. Drylands

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Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are commonly found on the soil surface in arid and semi-arid ecosystems (collectively called drylands). Biocrusts can consist of mosses, cyanobacteria, lichens, algae, and microfungi, and they strongly interact with the soil. These organisms or consortium of disparate organisms, depending on the specific biocrust, are important to the functioning of ecosystems and to the organization of plant and soil communities. To download a copy of “A Field Guide to Biological Soil Crusts of Western U.S. Drylands: Common Lichens and Bryophytes”, click on the adjacent Science tab.

 

Healthy dryland vegetation and biocrusts in Utah. Biocrusts are the darker colored patches between the bunches of grasses.
Healthy dryland vegetation and biocrusts in Utah. The biocrusts are the darker colored patches between the bunches of grasses and cacti. (Credit: Hilda Smith, USGS. Public domain.)