Grand Canyon National Park Biological Soil Crusts

Biological crusts (also known as cryptogamic, microbiotic, crytobiotic and microphytic crusts) are microscopic non-vascular assemblages composed of blue-green algae, diatoms, golden brown algae, lichens, mosses and a few xerophytic (adapted for growth with a limited water supply) liverworts on more mesic (moderate amount of moisture) sites. Blue-green algae contribute to the bulk of the algal tissue. Biological crusts grow on and within soils and other substrates, modifying these surfaces in significant ways. The blue-green algae fix atmospheric nitrogen and thus enhance the nutrient status of the soil. Cryptogamic crusts retard erosion by wind and water, help retain soil moisture during dry periods, slow evaporation rates, and enhance seedling establishment. These living crusts are extremely fragile and one footprint can set back development for decades.

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Featured Park
Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park where you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River or enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place.
Featured Wildlife
The pika is a close relative of the rabbits and hares, with two upper incisors on each side of the jaw, one behind the other. Being rock-gray in color, pikas are seldom seen until their shrill, metallic call reveals their presence.
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