Biological Soil Crusts of Joshua Tree National Park Spring 2018 (Biology x412.28 1 unit)
The desert floor may look like dirt and rocks but it is full of living small and microscopic organisms vital to the park’s ecosystem. Many of these organisms live in biologically active soil crusts that cover the first inch of the desert soil surface. In this field class Nicole Pietrasiak will introduce crypto-biotic soil crusts with an emphasis on soil algae, lichens, and mosses. Participants will study the secret life of these microscopic organisms as they demystify this thin layer of soil. Nicole will discuss the components of crusts such as cyanobacteria (one of the oldest known life forms on earth), green algae, diatoms, bacteria, fungi, and lichens. Theresa Clark will discuss arid land moss survival. The instructors will also discuss why these organisms are important to biodiversity and ecological function in arid lands. During the lab session, participants will see the biodiversity of the park’s crusts up close through two different types of microscopes. On the second day, the class will go into the field to identify and assess the condition of several types of algal, moss and lichen soil crust communities found in JTNP. Download the course outline: Biological Soil Crusts of JTNP Please review this pdf package that contains pertinent information about your class, the Joshua Tree National Park, camping reservations and lodging in the area around the park: enrollment attachments. If you are a member of JTNPA/PINE you will get a $10 discount off every Desert Institute class. If you are not a member you can become one here. Please take the time to review our General Class Information and Fitness Levels before registering.
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