FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — In a greenhouse at Northern Arizona University, a professor is researching an oft-overlooked ecological field that could play an important role in erosion prevention and plant growth.
The Arizona Daily Sun reports (http://bit.ly/2h2y7nT) soil ecologist Matthew Bowker is growing mosses, lichens and cyanobacteria that make up protective biological soil crusts found on the Colorado Plateau.
People and climate change can threaten biocrust survival.
Biocrust degradation hurts soil fertility and allows invasive plants and erosion to flourish.
It took eight weeks for Bowker and his team to grow a spoonful of biocrust into enough to spread across an 8-inch diameter circle.
They've transplanted crusts in New Mexico, Montana and Utah.
Bowker said results have been mixed and that biocrust restoration would be most useful on a larger scale.
Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, http://www.azdailysun.com/