Cryptobiotic crusts make up an important part of the ground cover in arid systems. Along with their roles of retarding soil erosion and enhancing soil fertility, crusts may also be supporting local and regional arthropod biodiversity. We inventoried arthropod species in mossy, lichen, and mixed (lichen and mossy) cryptobiotic crusts at 2 sites in central New Mexico piñon-juniper habitat. We collected 240 crust samples and used a heptane flotation technique to extract the microarthropods. We found 39 species of microarthropods and small macroarthropods, with significantly fewer species on lichen. Species richness was higher in March than in August, but diversity was lower because of dominance by the mite Neonanorchestes sp. Mean area differed significantly for different crust types, but arthropod species richness did not follow the pattern of more species on crusts with larger area. Arthropod species may be influencing such processes as nutrient cycling; therefore, the crust/arthropod interaction may be critical to aridland health.
Brantley, S. L. and Shepherd, U. L.
"Effect of cryptobiotic crust type on microarthropod assemblages in piñon-juniper woodland in central New Mexico,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 64
, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol64/iss2/2