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What makes the desert bloom? Contribution of dust and crusts to soil fertility on the Colorado PlateauAuthor(s): Jayne Belnap; Richard Reynolds; Marith Reheis; Susan L. Phillips
Source: In: McArthur, E. Durant; Fairbanks, Daniel J., comps. Shrubland ecosystem genetics and biodiversity: proceedings; 2000 June 13-15; Provo, UT. Proc. RMRS-P-21. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 147-153.
Publication Series: Proceedings (P)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (146.57 KB)
DescriptionEolian dust (windblown silt and clay) and biological soil crusts are both important to ecosystem functioning of arid lands. Dust furnishes essential nutrients, influences hydrology, contributes to soil formation, and renders surfaces vulnerable to erosion. Biological soil crusts contribute directly to soil fertility by fixing carbon and nitrogen, and indirectly by trapping newly-deposited dust and stabilizing already-present soil. Results from crust-stabilized, unconsolidated sandy sediments on prominent rock exposures and grasslands show dust inputs have significantly increased all bio-essential nutrients in soils of SE Utah, including P, K, Mg, Na, and Ca. As plants can be P and K-limited in these soils, dust may be essential for plant growth. Evidence for eolian dust comes from magnetic, chemical, and mineralogic properties of the soils that contrast greatly with those of local bedrock.
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CitationBelnap, Jayne; Reynolds, Richard; Reheis, Marith; Phillips, Susan L. 2001. What makes the desert bloom? Contribution of dust and crusts to soil fertility on the Colorado Plateau. In: McArthur, E. Durant; Fairbanks, Daniel J., comps. Shrubland ecosystem genetics and biodiversity: proceedings; 2000 June 13-15; Provo, UT. Proc. RMRS-P-21. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 147-153.
Keywordswildland shrubs, genetics, biodiversity, disturbance, ecophysiology, community ecology
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