Wednesday, October 1, 2014

That dark crusty soil...

This cyanobacteria - that dark crusty soil that is everywhere in the high deserts of Utah is so important to be left alone. Not only is it often extremely old - it helps keep the soil that is left from eroding and fixes nitrogen in the soil. Watch where you walk!

The following is from the NPS website regarding the environment in the region known as the Colorado Plateau:

"Biological soil crust is a living groundcover that forms the foundation of high desert plant life in Arches and the surrounding area. This knobby, black crust is dominated by cyanobacteria, but also includes lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi and bacteria.
Cyanobacteria, previously called blue-green algae, are one of the oldest known life forms. It is thought that these organisms were among the first land colonizers of the earth's early land masses, and played an integral role in the formation and stabilization of the earth's early soils. Extremely thick mats of these organisms converted the earth's original carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into one rich in oxygen and capable of sustaining life."

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