Biological Soil Crusts

black crusty soil that sticks up an inch or so from the hillside, with blue sky and red cliffs in the background
Go out of your way to avoid stepping on biological soil crust.


Biological soil crusts are found throughout the world and play important roles in the ecosystems in which they occur. In arid regions, these living soil crusts are dominated by cyanobacteria and also include soil lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi and bacteria. In the high deserts of the Colorado Plateau (which includes parts of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico), these knobby black crusts are extraordinarily well-developed, and may represent 70 to 80 percent of the living ground cover.


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