Tag Archives: desert crust

Desert Adventures, 2018

Nat and Jason headed out to the Mojave National Preserve to meet up with Erik Hom and his StudyUSA class from Univ of Mississippi. We started at the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center which is one of 39 Natural Reserves in the University of California.  We were there to teach a bit about cryptogamic crusts, show the Kelso dunes off, and explore some more of the desert crust sampling sites that our collaborator Nicole Pietrasiak (@drylandalgae) and Paul De Ley have collected from. Nothing like seeing sites that previously I only knew from pictures or tubes of soil!

A few pictures from our visit.

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Kelso Dunes
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Crusts symbioses of algae and cyanobacteria with fungi, bacteria, and many uncounted single celled organisms.

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Lichen Crusts galore across from the Kelso dunes
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Moss Crusts are also rich symbioses with a predominant moss.
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Old volcanic flow in the Cima area also has cacti and crusts
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Colorful lichens found on the granite faces. On closer looks, these are often 3 or more species competing for space on the same surface.

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A desert foray

We started some explorations on fungi in desert crusts this week with a project in Joshua Tree National Park. Nuttapom received a Robert Lee Graduate Student research grant to explore impacts of visitor disturbance on biodiversity of desert crusts in JTNP.  Nat with the help of Claudia, Derreck, and Prof Mike Allen did a first exploration of a few sites.  We are happy to see some rain falling this week so there should be some changes to the crusts in some subsequent visits this week and weekend and coinciding with a workshop on desert crusts in the park this weekend. Here’s a few pictures of the team out in the field last week.

Mike leads the team
Mike and Derreck ahead in Hidden Valley
Nat Sampling
Nat, getting his first taste of sampling in the desert.
Claudia looking for sandtsone associated fungi
Dereck and Claudia helping to look for crusts. Claudia is researching sandstone associated fungi from a variety of habitats.
Cyano Crust
Cyanobacteria dominated crust
Moss crust
Moss & crusts

Soil crust site