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Soil crusting.

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View Resource Biological Soil Crusts

Biological soil crust probably isn't the first thing that springs to mind when snapping that photo of the Delicate Arch at Arches National Park. However, without the algae, mosses, cyanobacteria, and other tiny organisms that inhabit the surface of desert soils, places like Arches and other arid environments would be quite different. The US Geological Survey provides an online guide to biological...

http://www.soilcrust.org/