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Microphytic crusts form at the soil surface in arid and semiarid rangelands. They bind soil particles together and purportedly influence hydrologic and stability responses to rainfall. We tested this influence in a designed rainfall simulation experiment conducted on a sandy lam site in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, that had been protected from livestock and human traffic for two to three years. Treatments consisted of microphytic crust conditions: 1) living and undisturbed (control); 2) chemically killed to determine structural influence (chemically killed), and mechanically removed from the soil surface (scalped) to approximate conditions of absence. Microphytic crusts in control and chemically killed treatments...
Wind is a persistent force in arid and semiarid lands. Microphytic crusts have been attributed with the ability to reduce wind erosion because of soil binding qualities. The purpose of this research was to determine if microphytic crusts contribute to soil stability in an arid land setting. Threshold friction velocity is the wind speed necessary for the initiation of soil erosion and, thus, is a measure of soil surface stability. A portable wind tunnel was used to determine threshold friction velocity on soil surfaces consisting of microphytic crusts living and undisturbed (control), chemically killed microphytic crusts but otherwise undisturbed (chemically killed), and microphytic crusts mechanically removed from...