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!).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Biological soil crusts: Ecology & Management - May 1-3, Boise, Idaho

I was recently in Boise (May 1-3), Idaho to co-teach "Biological soil crusts: Ecology and Management" with Roger Rosentreter. This is a perennial offering usually co-taught by Roger & Jayne Belnap, which happens in Boise, Moab, or other locations as demand requires. I may try and cycle into the teaching rotation more often. The participants are usually land managers and agency scientists, but it is open to the public.

Out class was mostly BLM people (ecologists, range conservationists and fire rehab people from as far away as Las Vegas, but mostly locals). We also had a private consultant, some Forest Service folks and a graduate student, among others. Overall, an excellent group that was very interested and contributed quite a bit to good discussion. I don't know where next years edition will be, but will post it when I know.

Roger was on fire, and should seriously consider a second career as a standup comedian. Overall he was in good form, as was his wife Anne, their turtle and tortoise friends, and their amazing native plants garden. I got some great photos, helped out by perfect overcast sky lighting. 

On our field site recon trip. Barry Kaminsky (L) and Roger Rosentreter (R) posing with a bucket o' crust we collected for class demos. Barry is currently working for Roger, but is an accomplished lichenologist that is looking for grad school opportunities, and would like to go in a more ecological direction.

Acarospora schleicheri...the "prom queen" of Great Basin crusts. Look at me! Look at me!

Our field trip site was close to the rim of the Snake River Gorge. Not so bad on the eyes.

Syntrichia ruralis, "twisted moss", probably accounting for half the crust biomass out there. I'm very impressed with the macro function on my cheap camera!

Picture says it all.

Ok, a little explanation. After collecting and reconn'ing we visited an exclosure in a winterfat vegetation type. This thing has been ungrazed for decades. Outside the exclosure didn't look all that bad, but inside was amazing! Under most of the winterfat shrubs there were these amazing mounds of Syntrichia that could swallow a hand. (I know because I now have a hook at the end of one arm). This one has numerous grass seedlings coming out of it. The carbon storage crowd is not thinking much about rangelands as C sinks, because rangelands are not carbon intense. But...there is a ton of acreage out there. Now, I don't buy the idea that, e.g., the Mojave Desert, is ever going to have all that much value for its C storage, but these cold winter rangelands could sink some serious C in the form of my old friend Syntrichia.

P.S. If you like any of these crust photos and want to use them, you may, just ask me first and credit this blog.


  1. Interesting info here and exciting, but just one request. Because you choose to have your Bio-Crustal photos as page background, it can be a challenge to read. In this particular post you have the size of the print looking like the proverbial fine print of a legal contract that doesn't want to be read. Just up the size a bit.

    Thanks - Kevin


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