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Biological Soil Crusts: Keystone of the Colorado Plateau.

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Presentation on theme: "Biological Soil Crusts: Keystone of the Colorado Plateau."— Presentation transcript:

1 Biological Soil Crusts: Keystone of the Colorado Plateau

2 Keystone Species: Cyanobacterium: Microcoleus vaginatus Figure 1. Filaments of Microcoleus vaginatus (x 3000), the dominant organism in the crust. Individual cells abut each other to form the filaments. from:

3 Microcoleus Figure 3. Microcoleus filaments (lower left) emerging from mucilagenous sheath (upper right). Scale bar is 10 micrometers.

4 How is this a keystone species?? Figure 4. Crust in sandy soils. The visible fibers are Microcoleus vaginatus. Note how Microcoleus connects the otherwise loose sand grains together, thus preventing wind and water erosion. Microcoleus is important in enhancing water and nutrient relations within the soil, as well. Scale bar is 100 micrometers.

5 Cryptobiotic Soil Crusts Open spaces covered by biological soil crusts, a highly specialized community of cyanobacteria, mosses, and lichens.

6 Cryptobiotic Soil Crusts Protection for plant seedlings

7 Cryptobiotic Soil Crusts Protection from erosion

8 Cryptobiotic Soil Crusts Easily destroyed by trampling, off-road vehicles, etc. ORVs in the Indian Creek area travel off-route at nearly every opportunity they have. Here, illegal cross-country riding has crushed cryptobiotic soils, causing damage that could last 50 to 300 years. Indian Creek proposed wilderness area. San Juan County, UT.

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