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Picture of the Day

Saving the desert's upper crust

To a casual observer, desert lands may appear a barren vista of sand and soil, sparsely dotted with shrubbery and cacti. In reality, they are lush with microscopic plants: lichens, mosses and cyanobacteria. There isn't an inch of soil that is without these organisms. These coverings -- known as cryptogamic crusts -- while providing essential ecosystem services, are also very fragile. Both the installation of solar farms and regular maintenance activities can disturb and remove this biological layer. Researchers are trying to understand the impacts that large scale solar farms will have on this component of desert ecosystems and how to develop mitigation strategies to help prevent or remediate any damage.

Visit Website | Image credit: S. Strachan