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Hidden Life

The desert is often thought of as lifeless or sterile. It is far from it. Even the desert soil is full of organisms, a living crust composed of microscopic plants that require the Sun's light for photosynthesis. The crust, called cryptobiotic, meaning "hidden life," resists wind and water erosion. It slows and absorbs water runoff, and provides essential nutrients to desert plants.

Hidden within the soil crust are cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), lichens, mosses, green algae, fungi, and bacteria. The cyanobacteria are the dominent plants. When wet, thier sticky filaments grow through the soil, binding rock and soil particles, thus forming a rigid but fragile soil-crust surface.

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Hidden life
ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - book store
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - glossary - comments
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