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Charismatic Microflora: The Ecology and Management of Biological Soil Crusts

February 20, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - February 23, 2020 @ 12:00 pm

| $75

Matt Bowker, Kirsten Fisher, Brent Mishler, Tom Carlberg, and Mandy Slate.
Desert Studies Center, Zzyzx, CA

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are communities of cryptic organisms, including cyanobacteria, mosses, and lichens that typically stand less than 0.5 cm in height. Biological soil crusts have a significant impact on the world because of their extensive global distribution and their regulation of ecosystem functions. They also provide the opportunity to study amazing biological traits such as desiccation tolerance. These communities are easily damaged or destroyed by human activities such as cattle grazing and off-road vehicle use and are of considerable concern in managing dryland environments.

This workshop will cover the basics, including: What is a biocrust? What are biocrusts composed of? How are biocrust organisms identified? Where are biocrusts found? How do the organisms in biocrusts manage to survive and reproduce in such a seemingly harsh environment? What role do biocrusts play in ecosystems? How can biocrusts be managed? How and where to find compelling, charismatic, and crucial biocrusts? We will combine classroom lecture with hands-on activities at the microscope, and visits to the field.

The Desert Studies Center at Zzyzx is located at Soda Springs on the northwestern edge of the Mojave National Preserve. The surrounding habitats support a range of plant communities, including halophytic vegetation, marsh communities, ponds and springs with pondweed, cattail and sedges, extensive creosote bush scrub and saltbush scrub stands, crescent sand dunes with psammophilous vegetation and plants stabilized by mesquite thickets and the rocky slopes and ravines of the Soda Mountains. Soda Springs itself is home to the Mojave Tui Chub, an endangered fish species, and a variety of desert reptiles and mammals. In addition, 92 bird species have been sighted at the center.

The cost of this workshop has been reduced by a subsidy from the National Science Foundation as outreach for the collaborative grant “Desiccation and Diversity in Dryland Mosses” ( of which the first three listed instructors are Principal Investigators.

Meals: Dinner Thursday through lunch Sunday are included.
Transportation: Not provided. Personal vehicle or carpool required for field trip.
Hiking: Easy
Start/End: Thursday, 4:00 pm – Sunday, 12:00 pm.

Course Fee: $75

This workshop has been approved for 7 Professional Development Credits by the California Consulting Botanist Board of Certification

Register for this workshop here


February 20, 2020 @ 4:00 pm
February 23, 2020 @ 12:00 pm
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