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.


  1. Glad I stumbled upon your web blog and this specific subject. I don't have to tell you how many people are ignorant of all these connections to the Earth.

    I just finished a piece on Biological Soil Crusts & I've given my readers links to this blog if that's alright. It's on my Earth's Internet blog.

    Thanks once again all of you.



  2. First, I want to say.....YAY, a comment from a real live human rather than a spam robot.

    Kevin, thanks for your interest and for the linkage. "Earth's internet: a layman's guide to installation and maintenance" is a fantastic blog title, I'm a bit jealous. It looks like you've got some interesting content that I will check out.

  3. Thanks Matthew

    I created a post yeaterday and at the end of it referenced info sites for the average folks to visit for a more in depth understanding of this fascinating ecosystem. Though most of focus I've seen spoken about this subject on the Net appears to deal strickly with dryland Savannah or desert environments, there are many other areas I have seen functioning under the same type of bacterial/mycorrhizal/Lichens/mosses environments. I found them in patches even in some forest situations or some chaparral systems.(which I reference up below Idyllwild) Even here in Sweden behind my house you'll find these things on many areas where trees are lacking (which is rare). I'll have to take pics, but all the componants are present, though different species from your focus.

    I lived 24 years in Anza Valley on Table Mountain just above Palm Springs. Worked for years on and off in El Centro CA. I'm a desert rat at heart and really missing the heat. I've been following the intense Not-So-Eco-Green Industrial Energy Farm projects taking place over there and I'm blown away by the mass destruction of the desert soils there just to install some wind turbines that take up little space. Over here in Sweden(and I'm often critical of Sweden's phony Eco-Green status) they at least forbid them to do any massive soil destruction. The only soil disturbed is the immediate area where the towers foundation will be. Not this wholesale open pit mine stuff I've seen from the photos.

    Anyway, below is my link. My main focues is on all biological networked underground systems Plant roots, mycorrhizae, bacteria, phenomena like Hydraulic Lift & Redistribution - Descent, etc, etc) and my target appreciation group is the average person who needs to know and understand these things. Science usuaully disconncects from these folks. Accomplishing this is a challenge because as you know most research material and wording is not necessarily meant for the average eyes. Generally the target is others of their peers. So I try to make it fun and interesting. Use simple terms and common everyday illustrations. Since most folks are addicted to anything electronic these days and most likely find it challenging to get off their butts and out into nature and observe the real world as folks did in the old days, my approach is to get them to relate to something they already know and make it fun to learn about something far more complex ans serious than the gadgets they play with.

    Anyway, that's the Theory! Enjoy

    Biological Soil Crusts: What Are They and Why Should I Care ?