Digital Mapping Inventory of Biological Soil Crusts in the Muddy Mountain National Wilderness Area, Nevada

Affiliation(s)PIProject periodFunded by
DEES Sun, Henry 11/06/2007 - 11/06/2009 DOI - Bureau of Land Management

Project Description

The purpose of mapping the distribution of the biological soil crusts within Hidden Valley in the Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area (MMWA). Biological soil crusts are an important component in desert ecosystems. These arid and semi-arid landscapes are sparsely vegetated making them highly vulnerable to sediment losses by wind and water erosion. A highly specialized community comprised of cyanobacteria, mosses, and lichens, these crusts protect plant interspaces, covering up to 70 percent of the landscape. These crusts are also very fragile and easily disturbed by land management activities. In order to protect biological soil crust resources, land managers need inventories of the crust organisms within the landscape and need to understand their recovery rates after disturbance. The proposed project will delineate the distribution of biological soil crusts as they relate to soil characteristics, vegetation, topography, and disturbance. It will also allow us to estimate the recovery of disturbed crusts and to make recommendations concerning the management of these crusts.