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Biocrusts of Cold Drylands

By Amanda M. Chandler

Apr 17 2023

The default image that comes to mind when thinking of deserts is often one of extreme heat. But there’s more! Desert ecosystems are characterized by low rainfall and relatively sparse vegetation, which occurs in a wide variety of ecosystems. This means that even perpetually cold areas (such as the polar regions) are classified as deserts, if precipitation levels are low enough. BSCs of cooler dryland areas typically include more lichens and mosses, causing the crusts in these areas to have more height variation across a given landscape. Here you will find some representative lichens, bryophytes, and algae that are representative of cold desert biocrusts (Rosentreter et al. 2007).


Rosentreter, R., M. Bowker, and J. Belnap. 2007. A Field Guide to Biological Soil Crusts of Western U.S. Drylands. U.S. Government Printing Office, Denver, Colorado.