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September 21, 2016

Biocrust 3 Conference Begins Next Week in Moab, Utah.

Biocrust at Fort Hill Air Force Base near Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Matthew Alan Bowker, NAU

Reporters: Want a press pass to attend the conference and off-site tours? Contact Jenn LaVista.

Scientists from 21 countries are gathering to discuss how the living desert surface affects climate in the southwestern United States and drylands across the globe. The Biocrust 3 Conference provides a global forum to exchange discoveries and ideas about biological soil crusts and begins next week in Moab, Utah.

The living skin of the desert, called biological soil crusts (biocrusts), is critical to ecosystem health and climate in the Southwest and other dryland areas. For the first time, resource managers will play a central role in the International Workshop on Biological Soil Crusts, discovering and adding to conversations about how they might use this new science to help effectively manage and restore dry landscapes.

Conference participants will hear from U.S. Geological Survey scientists and others from around the world, including experts from Europe, China and South America. On-site tours will visit the Canyonlands Research Center, Wilson Arch, and the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park to look at pronounced biocrust potholes. Visits to one-of-a-kind climate manipulation plots can also be arranged. The conference is jointly coordinated by Northern Arizona University and the USGS.

What:            Reporters are invited to attend the Biocrust 3 Conference. Journalists will have access to highly visual off-site tours and
                      interview opportunities.

When:           September 26 - 30, 2016
                      Tours take place on Wednesday, September 28

Where:          Conference based out of Star Hall (159 E. Center St.) in Moab, Utah.
                      Tours include climate manipulation plots, Canyonlands Research Center, Wilson Arch, the Needles District and other areas
                      upon request.

Globally, drylands make up more than 40 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface. Biocrusts are a consortium of lichens, mosses, and cyanobacteria, and these organisms prevent soil erosion and affect soil fertility, facilitating native plant establishment and success. The Earth’s energy balance is also dependent on biocrusts. Recent findings may change the way scientists develop future global climate models. 

Learn more about the conference by visiting the Biocrusts conference webpage and Facebook page. Free shuttles are available from Grand Junction and Moab airports.

Biocrust at Birds of Prey National Conservation Area near Biose, Idaho. Photo: Matthew Alan Bowker, NAU
Photo of biocrust taken at Birds of Prey National Resources Conservation Area near Boise, Idaho. Photo: Matthew Alan Bowker, NAU
The Needles District, Canyonlands National Park
The Needles District, Canyonlands National Park. Photo: Hilda Smith, USGS
The Needles District, Canyonlands National Park
The Needles District, Canyonlands National Park. Photo: Hilda Smith, USGS
La Sal Mountain Range
Snow-capped peaks of the La Sal Mountain Range as seen from the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. This is one area in the Southwest where biocrust plays an important role. Photo: Ed Grote, USGS