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!).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Maestre Lab: A paper from the Maestre lab has received a F1000P...

Congratulations to Cristina Escolar, who lead authored the paper

Warming reduces the growth and diversity of biological soil crusts in a semi-arid environment: implications for ecosystem structure and functioning

in the oldest biology journal in the world. It has been recommended by Dr. Eric Post of Faculty of 1000. Read about it below:

Maestre Lab: A paper from the Maestre lab has received a F1000P...: We are very happy to share that the first paper from Cristina Escolar´s PhD ( Warming reduces the growth and diversity of biological...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bryophytes Frozen Under a Glacier for 400 Years Can Come Back to Life | Surprising Science

This one's making the science news rounds...

Plants Frozen Under a Glacier for 400 Years Can Come Back to Life | Surprising Science

La Farge C, Williams KH, England JH. 2013. Regeneration of little Ice Age bryophytes emerging from a polar glacier with implications of totipotency in extreme environments, PNAS dpi:10.1073/pnas1304199110.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ecological Processes paper collection on biocrusts

There's so much crust news I can't possibly keep up with posting. This is one I should have addressed weeks ago. Bettina Weber and Jayne Belnap organized a crust session on biocrusts in last summer's Ecological Society of America Meeting in Portland, all authors were asked to contribute to this special issue (or paper collection, the open-access version). Some of the talks turned into papers, and other contributors were invited to fill in the gaps. It's an eclectic and high quality collection that is truly international.

Ecological Processes is a new Springer open access journal. All papers are free! Follow the links below to read the papers or download pdf's. Also, check back, I believe more papers are coming.

Biological soil crusts: their diversity, functional ecology and management.

Edited by: Dr Jayne Belnap, Dr Bettina Weber It has only recently been recognized that biological soil crusts (BSC) are a critical component of dryland ecosystems, contributing to the diversity, functionality and nutrient cycling of these regions worldwide. Formed by cyanobacteria, algae, lichens, fungi and bacteria in varying proportions, BSC grow within the uppermost millimeters of the soil, fulfilling a variety of ecosystem services. With their filaments BSC organisms glue together soil particles, thus effectively preventing erosion by both wind and water. BSC organisms in general and nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria in particular, add nutrients to nutrient-poor desert soils, thus promoting the establishment and growth of vascular plants. Their relevance and impact on global carbon and nitrogen cycles is just starting to be considered. During the last decade, studies on BSC have intensified and diversified, creating a unique and growing research community.Collection published: 23 February 2013Last updated: 16 May 2013
Belnap J, Weber B- Biological soil crusts as an integral component of desert environments. 
Marusenko Y, Bates S, Anderson I, Johnson S, Soule T, Garcia-Pichel F. Ammonia-oxidizing archaea and bacteria are structured by geography in biological soil crusts of North American arid lands.

Weber B, Wessels DCJ, Deutschewitz, Dojani S, Reichenberger H, Budel B. Ecological characterization of soil-inhabiting and hypolithic soil crusts within the Knersvlakte, South Africa.

Budel B, Vivas M, Lange OL. Lichen species dominance and the resulting photosynthetic behavior of Sonoran Desert soil crust types (Baja California, Mexico).

Dettweiler-Robinson E, Ponzetti JM, Bakker JD. Long-term changes in biological soil crust cover and composition.

Peterson EB. Regional-scale relationship among biological soil crusts, invasive annual grasses, and disturbance.

Beraldi-Campesi H. Early life on land and the first terrestrial ecosystems.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Summer internship USGS Canyonlands Field Station






OPEN DATE: 5/6/2013

SALARY: $11.95/hr

CLOSE DATE: 5/10/13, 5/17/13, 5/24/13

POSITION: Biol Sci Aid (Student), GG-0404-03

TYPE OF APPOINTMENT: Temporary, NTE 180 working days

TOUR OF DUTY: 180 day (2 months)


LOCATION: Moab, Utah

There are     1       position(s) to be hired from this announcement. Open dates are         5/6/2013       through       5/24/13     . This announcement will be open until all positions are filled, or closed on     5/24/13       . On each of the above dates the announcement will be closed and applications received as of that date will be evaluated. All applications must be received by 5:00 PM MST of the closing date(s).

THESE ARE TEMPORARY EXCEPTED SERVICES POSITIONS for which all qualified applicants, with or without Federal status, may apply and be considered. Appointment to these positions, however, will not convey permanent status in the Federal service. Appointment will only be for the duration of the position, normally 3-6 months. Temporary employees are covered by the Social Security Retirement System and annual and sick leave will be accrued except in intermittent status.  Employees are ineligible for health and life insurance coverage.


Conducts field sampling of biological soil crusts, vegetation, and soils of the Colorado Plateau with accuracy and precision specialized techniques at pre-selected study sites under supervision of field crew leader.

Prepares samples and performs laboratory analysis of crust, plant, and soil samples to determine specific chemical, physical, and/or biological characteristics under supervision of a project lead.

Enters data on a Windows-based computer using spreadsheets.

Operates a government motor vehicle.

Knowledge of basic laboratory safety protocols.

Basic knowledge of common field methods, sufficient to collect data in a scientifically sound manner.

Basic knowledge of procedures and techniques utilized in a laboratory setting for measuring the chemical parameters of soils.

Basic knowledge of scientific techniques and practices in gathering, compiling, and entering in a Windows-based PC program (e.g., Excel).

Basic knowledge of biological, physical, chemical and ecological science principles applicable to plant ecology, soil ecology and plant physiology.

Practical knowledge of the processes, methods and procedures of biological science to perform a variety of assignments.

Knowledge of routine field data collection procedures in order to collect biological data.

Skill in the operation, maintenance, and servicing of a variety of biological recording and measuring instruments.


This is a two-month seasonal position. Incumbent will perform laboratory and field work from mid-May to mid-July. This position is in the Canyonlands Research Station, Moab, Utah. Work is performed over a wide geographic area requiring overnight trips and possibility of work in remote areas for up to 10-days. Incumbent participates in a research program focusing on the ecology and physiology of plants and biological soil crusts, soil ecology, biogeochemistry, physical soil science, plant-soil interactions, and invasive plants. Course work in botany, plant physiology, chemistry, and soil science is optimal. Incumbent will perform routine laboratory and field work. Duties include long days of collecting field data under extreme conditions, processing vegetation and soil samples for chemical analysis or archiving, use of complicated scientific instrumentation, and use of excel and/or access for data entry and summary.


Three months field survey party experience OR 1 year subprofessional experience OR 6 months college work related to field of employment. College work related to the field of employment which includes successful completion of at least one-half of an academic year (15 sem/23 quarter hours) of post high school education in an accredited college, junior college, or technical institute which included at least 3 semester/5 quarter hours in any combination of courses such as biological or physical science, engineering, or any branch of mathematics.


Current students in an accredited high school, college (including 4-year colleges/universities, community colleges, and junior colleges); professional, technical, vocational, and trade school; advanced degree programs; or other qualifying educational institution pursuing a qualifying degree or certificate.

BASIS OF EVALUATION: All applicants will be evaluated on the basis of education and experience (including unpaid or volunteer experience). Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of this announcement.

First preference in referral will be given to eligible applicants entitled to 10 point veteran’s preference who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10 percent or more. All other qualified applicants entitled to veteran’s preference will be given preference over qualified applicants not entitled to veteran’s preference.

ALL APPLICANTS MUST BE UNITED STATES CITIZENS: Under regulations in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, employment in this position is limited to those persons who are authorized to work in the United States. Verification of employment eligibility will be required at the time of appointment.

As a condition of employment, all new employees reporting for duty with the Department of the Interior will be paid through direct deposit to a financial institution of their choice.

Applicants selected for Federal employment will be required to complete a Declaration of Federal Employment, OF-306, prior to being appointed to determine their suitability for Federal employment and to authorize a background investigation. Failure to answer all questions truthfully and completely or providing false statements on the application may be grounds for not hiring the applicant, or for firing the applicant after he/she begins work. Also, he/she may be punished by fine or imprisonment (U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 1001).

Prior to or at the time of appointment, male applicants born after December 31, 1959, will have to certify that they have registered with the Selective Service System in order to be appointed to a position with the United States Geological Survey, unless legally qualified for an exception.

Employees of the U.S. Geological Survey are subject to the provisions of Title 43, U.S. Code, Section 31 (a) and may not according to this legislation and related regulation: (a) have any personal or private interest, direct or indirect, in lands or mineral wealth of such lands or a region under survey and whose title is in the U.S.; (b) execute surveys or examination for private parties or corporations; or (c) have personal or private interest, direct or indirect, in any private mining or mineral enterprise doing business in the U.S. except where specifically authorized by the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey.

HOW TO APPLY: Carefully read all information and instructions. It is the responsibility of the applicant to insure the application is complete. The personnel office will not be responsible for soliciting additional information from applicants or from official personnel records, but will consider individuals based on their applications as submitted. Applications must be received in the             Canyonlands Research Station          office by the closing date on the announcement in order to be considered.


1.      Resume

2.      College transcript or list of college courses, specifying the title of course work, completion date, semester or quarter hours earned by course title, and grade earned.

3.      If claiming 5-point veteran’s preference, a DD-214 showing character of discharge is required.

4.      If claiming 10-pint veteran’s preference, a SF-15 with proof of claim is required.


1.      Job Information

a.       Announcement number, title, and grade(s) of the job for which you are applying.

2.      Personal Information

a.       Full name, mailing address (with zip code), day and evening phone numbers (with area code)

b.      Country of Citizenship

c.       Veteran’s Preference

d.      Highest Federal civilian job held.  Give job series, grade, and dates held)

3.      Education

a.       High School (name, address)

b.      Colleges and Universities (names and addresses)

c.       Majors

d.      Type and year of any degrees received.  If no degree, show total credits earned and indicate whether semester or quarter hours.

4.      Work Experience (paid and non-paid) related to the job for which you are applying.

a.       Job Title (give series and grade if Federal)

b.      Duties and accomplishments

c.       Employer’s name and address

d.      Supervisor’s name and phone number

e.       Starting and ending dates (Month, day, and year).

f.       Hours per week

g.       Salary

h.      Indicate if current supervisor may be contacted.

5.      Other Qualifications

a.       Job-related training courses (title, length, and date taken)

b.      Job-related skills (i.e., other language, computer software; hardware, tools, machinery, typing speed, etc.)

c.       Job-related certificates and licenses (current only)

6.      Job-related honors, awards, and special accomplishments (i.e., publications, memberships in professional or honor societies, leadership activities, public speaking, and performance awards). Give details but do not send documents unless requested.


***Email applications are preferred.


EMAIL: crs_jobs@usgs.gov

ATTN: Erika Geiger

U.S. MAIL: Canyonlands Research Station, 2290 S. West Resource Blvd, Moab, Utah 84532




It is against the law to submit applications for employment using government franked envelopes or mail services (18 USC 1719). All such applications will not be considered