A networking resource devoted to biological soil crusts and the researchers who study them. We will provide a means for international scientists to communicate, share their research, share important news and announcements, ask questions and find collaborators. We will also provide a space for informal writing on research, opinion, and ideas (now seeking posters!).

Friday, May 25, 2012

EGU part 2: Thursday biocrust session

It's been about a 3 week monolith of traveling for me. First, EGU in Vienna, then teaching a crust class in Boise, Idaho, then fieldwork near St. George, Utah. I've been wanting to post about all of these activities but finding the time has been tough.

You may have noticed that the incredibly handy biocrust researcher directory disappeared. Here's how handy it was: when I got asked to review a crust paper and had no time, I would direct the editor to select another qualified researcher form the directory. That's bloody useful. Deleting it  was not a conscious decision, rather it was a terrible error on my part. I tried to update one listing and deleted the whole stinking thing. I did this before finishing my coffee....that's why you always finish your coffee before you do anything. Apparently there is no way to recover it, so I'll rebuild it some weekend when I've got a couple hours.

So, about EGU....the thursday crust session was moderated by Giora Kidron, and had a fairly hydrological bent to it. My personal favorite talk of the day was Ferran Garcia-Pichel's talk about detection of fossil crusts and the roles of polysaccharide slime in shaping the way the biosphere works, since the Precambrian. That's right, before plants there were crusts.

Here's a few pics from the poster session that evening:

Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo from Sevilla reveals how damned complicated N-cycling can be. I'll have to have him teach me more about the N-cycle when he visits over the summer and we'll throw some statistical models at it.

Most of the French biocrust team had to leave after the oral session, but Fiona Ehrhardt represents. I had a difficult time holding my silly complimentary wine cup while taking a photo, hence the shaky bigfoot picture effect. She's talking to Ferran here.

Jane Bevan and Roy Alexander talking to Jayne about a cool lichen transplant study in southern Spain.

Sonia Chamizo manning not one but two posters in addition to giving a talk. Superhero.
Below I include my favorite photos from Vienna. I only managed a little tourism, but a little pays dividends in this city:

Hundertwasser House, outside of the city center, this apartment building combines every texture and color and multiple architectural styles and collages them. It also has enough vegetation growing on it that it resembles a lost city.

The best thing about medieval architecture is the details. Gothic cathedrals are absolutely encrusted with minor sculptures. This one probably took a sculptor months, but how many people notice it and what does it mean?

Here's the actual cathedral Stephansdom. It's especially unique because of the multi-colored tile roof pronouncing Hapsburg mojo. You can see why it might be easy to miss a 10 cm winged skull.

I add this to my collection of photos of dinosaur graffiti. Sorry about the meteor dude, sad story indeed.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crust versus road

Kyle Doherty sent me the following from Mesa Verde:

"I came across an old decommissioned asphalt road today that appears to be losing ground to some crust.  I didn't excavate to see how far it had encroached upon the road, as I didn't want to disturb it.  I thought it was pretty cool given the level of development."

It reminds me of an old steel cattle tank I saw near Canyonlands. The rivets had rusted out, and it couldn't hold much water anymore, but had accumulated some soil which grew a nice little crust garden. Even better, Sue Phillips used to have a beer bottle found out in the Mojave desert. Soil had blown in and a biocrust complete with mosses had grown in there as if it were a greenhouse.