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Vulnerability of desert biological soil crusts to wind erosion: The influences of crust development, soil texture, and disturbance

Journal of Arid Environments

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ORCID iD and
https://doi.org/10.1006/jare.1998.0388

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Abstract

Biological soil crusts, consisting of cyanobacteria, green algae, lichens, and mosses, are important in stabilizing soils in semi-arid and arid lands. Integrity of these crusts is compromised by compressional disturbances such as foot, vehicle, or livestock traffic. Using a portable wind tunnel, we found threshold friction velocities (TFVs) of undisturbed crusts well above wind forces experienced at these sites; consequently, these soils are not vulnerable to wind erosion. However, recently disturbed soils or soils with less well-developed crusts frequently experience wind speeds that exceed the stability thresholds of the crusts. Crustal biomass is concentrated in the top 3 mm of soils. Sandblasting by wind can quickly remove this material, thereby reducing N and C inputs from these organisms. This loss can result in reduced site productivity, as well as exposure of unprotected subsurface sediments to wind and water erosion. Actions to reduce impacts to these crusts can include adjustments in type, intensity, and timing of use.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Vulnerability of desert biological soil crusts to wind erosion: The influences of crust development, soil texture, and disturbance
Series title:
Journal of Arid Environments
DOI:
10.1006/jare.1998.0388
Volume:
39
Issue:
2
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier
Contributing office(s):
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description:
10 p.
First page:
133
Last page:
142