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Structure and Function of Microphytic Soil Crusts in Wildland Ecosystems of Arid to Semi-arid Regions
Advances in Ecological Research (2008)
  • Neil E. West, Utah State University
This chapter reviews the structure, function, environmental response, interactions with other ecosystem components, and indicator values of microphytic crust on non-tilled, extensively managed land in arid to semi-arid regions. The understanding of characteristics and roles of these crusts in such ecosystems can help ensure that they are observed and accounted for monitoring of change, basic field ecology research, and land management decisions. The chapter exclusively considers the soil surface covered with microphytes. However, microphytes are often associated with other kinds of soil surface and near-surface features, variously called crusts, caps, films, veils, pans, mats, skins, or scaly micro-horizons that can interact with microphytes. The kinds of organisms that can be involved in microphytic crusts are very diverse. These include those visible with the unaided human eye, commonly called thallophytic crusts. And those parts of crusts whose individuals are visible only microscopically, known as microscopic crusts. However, their presence can also be sometimes detected by soil surface color, consistency, and tensile strength.
Publication Date
M. Begon, A.H. Fitter and A. Macfadyen
Publisher Statement
Citation Information
Neil E. West. "Structure and Function of Microphytic Soil Crusts in Wildland Ecosystems of Arid to Semi-arid Regions" Advances in Ecological Research Vol. 20 (2008)
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