Cryptobiotic Crusts

cryptobiotic crusts
Cryptobiotic crusts often go unnoticed by desert hikers.
What has tentacles creeping through the ground around you, resists whipping winter desert winds, has watched the sun rise and fall over hundreds of cloudless days, and is invisible to the untrained eye? Cryptobiotic crusts! Otherwise known as “desert glue,” this layer of biotic organisms “hidden” (crypto-) in the surface of park soils is rarely noticed by even the most active desert hiker.

Living soil crusts are found throughout the world, from the hottest deserts to polar regions. In the desert, these crusts are dominated by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), but also include lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi, and bacteria.

 
cryptobiotic crusts
Microscopic view of cryptobiotic crusts
So what’s the big deal? Crusts play a vital role in desert health. Cyanobacteria in the desert form filaments surrounded by sheaths. With summer or winter rains, these filaments become moist and active, moving through the soils, leaving behind a trail of the sticky sheath material. The sheaths stick to surfaces such as soil particles, forming an intricate webbing of fibers. In this way, loose soil particles are joined together, and otherwise unstable, highly erosion-prone surfaces become resistant to both wind and water erosion. Basically, they hold the place in place!

These sheaths build up in the soil over long periods of time, up to 15 cm deep in some areas. Not only do they protect the soil from blowing away; they also absorb precious rainfall (reducing flash flood runoff) and provide a huge surface area for nutrients to cling to. They contribute nitrogen and organic matter to ecosystems which is critical in deserts where resources are few and far between. Unfortunately, many human activities are incompatible with these fragile crusts. The fibers that offer stability to the soil surface are no match for the boot of a hiker nor the weight of a tire. Crushed crusts contribute less nitrogen and organic matter to the ecosystem; under the best circumstances, a thin veneer may return in five to seven years!

So now what? Well, the best thing we can all do is try not to love our desert to death. Stay on established trails, and keep your vehicle on approved roads within the park. If you must walk through an area thick with crusts (you may see them as lumpy black bumps on the ground), walk in single file to destroy as small an area as possible. The desert will thank you for this in years to come, with bountiful wildflower displays in the crusted areas, as well as with land kept in place and a healthy ecosystem.

by Vegetation Specialist Jane Rodgers

Last updated: February 28, 2015

struct
Detail Ensure that the name is correct and that the component or interface exists.
Message Could not find the ColdFusion component or interface C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\customcf\structured_data\components\SiteService.cfc.
StackTrace coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage$NoSuchTemplateException: Could not find the ColdFusion component or interface C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\customcf\structured_data\components\SiteService.cfc. at coldfusion.runtime.TemplateClassLoader.newInstance(TemplateClassLoader.java:598) at coldfusion.runtime.TemplateClassLoader.newInstance(TemplateClassLoader.java:574) at coldfusion.runtime.TemplateProxyFactory.getCFCInstance(TemplateProxyFactory.java:281) at coldfusion.runtime.TemplateProxyFactory.resolveName(TemplateProxyFactory.java:174) at coldfusion.runtime.TemplateProxyFactory.resolveName(TemplateProxyFactory.java:159) at coldfusion.runtime.TemplateProxyFactory.resolveName(TemplateProxyFactory.java:149) at coldfusion.cfc.ComponentProxyFactory.getProxy(ComponentProxyFactory.java:57) at coldfusion.runtime.CFPage.CreateObject(CFPage.java:5976) at coldfusion.runtime.CFPage.CreateObject(CFPage.java:5991) at cffooter_parkFooter2ecfm1541557965.runPage(C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\includes\footer_parkFooter.cfm:11) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cfcontentWrap_bottom2ecfm1200839389.runPage(C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\includes\contentWrap_bottom.cfm:69) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cftemplate2dbasepage2ecfm961847766.runPage(C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\template-basepage.cfm:192) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cftemplate2dbasepage2drd2ecfm306357217.runPage(C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\template-basepage-rd.cfm:1) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cftemplate2dbasepage2dwith2dhf2ecfm1446591681.runPage(C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\templates\template-basepage-with-hf.cfm:9) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cfrender2dpage2dmeat2ecfm482299606.runPage(C:\commonspot\render-page-meat.cfm:269) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cfrender2dpage2ecfm349554857.runPage(C:\commonspot\render-page.cfm:36) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cfmaster2drender2ecfm9544541.runPage(C:\commonspot\master-render.cfm:19) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cfuncached2dmaster2ecfm553419735.runPage(C:\commonspot\uncached-master.cfm:222) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cfcached2dpage2drender2ecfm1105867407.runPage(C:\commonspot\utilities\cached-page-render.cfm:245) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cfmaster2ecfm849558361._factor23(C:\commonspot\master.cfm:285) at cfmaster2ecfm849558361._factor25(C:\commonspot\master.cfm:14) at cfmaster2ecfm849558361.runPage(C:\commonspot\master.cfm:1) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage._emptyTcfTag(CfJspPage.java:3000) at cfcryptocrusts2ehtm1107917495.runPage(C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\jotr\learn\nature\cryptocrusts.htm:75) at coldfusion.runtime.CfJspPage.invoke(CfJspPage.java:246) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.handlePageInvoke(IncludeTag.java:736) at coldfusion.tagext.lang.IncludeTag.doStartTag(IncludeTag.java:572) at coldfusion.filter.CfincludeFilter.invoke(CfincludeFilter.java:65) at coldfusion.filter.IpFilter.invoke(IpFilter.java:45) at coldfusion.filter.ApplicationFilter.invoke(ApplicationFilter.java:495) at coldfusion.filter.RequestMonitorFilter.invoke(RequestMonitorFilter.java:42) at coldfusion.filter.MonitoringFilter.invoke(MonitoringFilter.java:40) at coldfusion.filter.PathFilter.invoke(PathFilter.java:153) at coldfusion.filter.ExceptionFilter.invoke(ExceptionFilter.java:94) at coldfusion.filter.ClientScopePersistenceFilter.invoke(ClientScopePersistenceFilter.java:28) at coldfusion.filter.BrowserFilter.invoke(BrowserFilter.java:38) at coldfusion.filter.NoCacheFilter.invoke(NoCacheFilter.java:58) at coldfusion.filter.GlobalsFilter.invoke(GlobalsFilter.java:38) at coldfusion.filter.DatasourceFilter.invoke(DatasourceFilter.java:22) at coldfusion.filter.CachingFilter.invoke(CachingFilter.java:62) at coldfusion.CfmServlet.service(CfmServlet.java:219) at coldfusion.bootstrap.BootstrapServlet.service(BootstrapServlet.java:89) at org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationFilterChain.internalDoFilter(ApplicationFilterChain.java:303) at org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationFilterChain.doFilter(ApplicationFilterChain.java:208) at coldfusion.monitor.event.MonitoringServletFilter.doFilter(MonitoringServletFilter.java:42) at coldfusion.bootstrap.BootstrapFilter.doFilter(BootstrapFilter.java:46) at org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationFilterChain.internalDoFilter(ApplicationFilterChain.java:241) at org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationFilterChain.doFilter(ApplicationFilterChain.java:208) at sun.reflect.GeneratedMethodAccessor77.invoke(Unknown Source) at sun.reflect.DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.java:43) at java.lang.reflect.Method.invoke(Method.java:498) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.j2ee.filterchain.WrappedFilterChain.doFilter(WrappedFilterChain.java:134) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.j2ee.filter.FusionReactorRequestHandler.doNext(FusionReactorRequestHandler.java:764) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.j2ee.filter.FusionReactorRequestHandler.doHttpServletRequest(FusionReactorRequestHandler.java:344) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.j2ee.filter.FusionReactorRequestHandler.doFusionRequest(FusionReactorRequestHandler.java:207) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.j2ee.filter.FusionReactorRequestHandler.handle(FusionReactorRequestHandler.java:801) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.j2ee.filter.FusionReactorCoreFilter.doFilter(FusionReactorCoreFilter.java:36) at sun.reflect.GeneratedMethodAccessor76.invoke(Unknown Source) at sun.reflect.DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.java:43) at java.lang.reflect.Method.invoke(Method.java:498) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.j2ee.filterchain.WrappedFilterChain.doFilter(WrappedFilterChain.java:71) at sun.reflect.GeneratedMethodAccessor75.invoke(Unknown Source) at sun.reflect.DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.java:43) at java.lang.reflect.Method.invoke(Method.java:498) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.agent.filter.FusionReactorStaticFilter.doFilter(FusionReactorStaticFilter.java:54) at com.intergral.fusionreactor.agent.pointcuts.NewFilterChainPointCut$1.invoke(NewFilterChainPointCut.java:41) at org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationFilterChain.doFilter(ApplicationFilterChain.java) at org.apache.catalina.core.StandardWrapperValve.invoke(StandardWrapperValve.java:219) at org.apache.catalina.core.StandardContextValve.invoke(StandardContextValve.java:110) at org.apache.catalina.authenticator.AuthenticatorBase.invoke(AuthenticatorBase.java:494) at org.apache.catalina.core.StandardHostValve.invoke(StandardHostValve.java:169) at org.apache.catalina.valves.ErrorReportValve.invoke(ErrorReportValve.java:104) at org.apache.catalina.core.StandardEngineValve.invoke(StandardEngineValve.java:116) at org.apache.catalina.connector.CoyoteAdapter.service(CoyoteAdapter.java:458) at org.apache.coyote.ajp.AjpProcessor.process(AjpProcessor.java:196) at org.apache.coyote.AbstractProtocol$AbstractConnectionHandler.process(AbstractProtocol.java:637) at org.apache.tomcat.util.net.JIoEndpoint$SocketProcessor.run(JIoEndpoint.java:316) at java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor.runWorker(ThreadPoolExecutor.java:1149) at java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor$Worker.run(ThreadPoolExecutor.java:624) at org.apache.tomcat.util.threads.TaskThread$WrappingRunnable.run(TaskThread.java:61) at java.lang.Thread.run(Thread.java:748)
Suppressed
array [empty]
TagContext
array
1
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CF_CFPAGE
LINE 11
RAW_TRACE at cffooter_parkFooter2ecfm1541557965.runPage(C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\includes\footer_parkFooter.cfm:11)
TEMPLATE C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\includes\footer_parkFooter.cfm
TYPE CFML
2
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 69
RAW_TRACE at cfcontentWrap_bottom2ecfm1200839389.runPage(C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\includes\contentWrap_bottom.cfm:69)
TEMPLATE C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\includes\contentWrap_bottom.cfm
TYPE CFML
3
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 192
RAW_TRACE at cftemplate2dbasepage2ecfm961847766.runPage(C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\template-basepage.cfm:192)
TEMPLATE C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\template-basepage.cfm
TYPE CFML
4
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 1
RAW_TRACE at cftemplate2dbasepage2drd2ecfm306357217.runPage(C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\template-basepage-rd.cfm:1)
TEMPLATE C:\CMSContent\common\commonspot\templates\template-basepage-rd.cfm
TYPE CFML
5
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 9
RAW_TRACE at cftemplate2dbasepage2dwith2dhf2ecfm1446591681.runPage(C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\templates\template-basepage-with-hf.cfm:9)
TEMPLATE C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\templates\template-basepage-with-hf.cfm
TYPE CFML
6
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 269
RAW_TRACE at cfrender2dpage2dmeat2ecfm482299606.runPage(C:\commonspot\render-page-meat.cfm:269)
TEMPLATE C:\commonspot\render-page-meat.cfm
TYPE CFML
7
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 36
RAW_TRACE at cfrender2dpage2ecfm349554857.runPage(C:\commonspot\render-page.cfm:36)
TEMPLATE C:\commonspot\render-page.cfm
TYPE CFML
8
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 19
RAW_TRACE at cfmaster2drender2ecfm9544541.runPage(C:\commonspot\master-render.cfm:19)
TEMPLATE C:\commonspot\master-render.cfm
TYPE CFML
9
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 222
RAW_TRACE at cfuncached2dmaster2ecfm553419735.runPage(C:\commonspot\uncached-master.cfm:222)
TEMPLATE C:\commonspot\uncached-master.cfm
TYPE CFML
10
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 245
RAW_TRACE at cfcached2dpage2drender2ecfm1105867407.runPage(C:\commonspot\utilities\cached-page-render.cfm:245)
TEMPLATE C:\commonspot\utilities\cached-page-render.cfm
TYPE CFML
11
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 285
RAW_TRACE at cfmaster2ecfm849558361._factor23(C:\commonspot\master.cfm:285)
TEMPLATE C:\commonspot\master.cfm
TYPE CFML
12
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CF_MASTER
LINE 14
RAW_TRACE at cfmaster2ecfm849558361._factor25(C:\commonspot\master.cfm:14)
TEMPLATE C:\commonspot\master.cfm
TYPE CFML
13
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CF_MASTER
LINE 1
RAW_TRACE at cfmaster2ecfm849558361.runPage(C:\commonspot\master.cfm:1)
TEMPLATE C:\commonspot\master.cfm
TYPE CFML
14
struct
COLUMN 0
ID CFINCLUDE
LINE 75
RAW_TRACE at cfcryptocrusts2ehtm1107917495.runPage(C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\jotr\learn\nature\cryptocrusts.htm:75)
TEMPLATE C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\jotr\learn\nature\cryptocrusts.htm
TYPE CFML
Type Application
missingFileName C:\CMSContent\cms\sites\nps\customcf\structured_data\components\SiteService.cfc