Great Basin Naturalist


Cryptogamic soil crusts of Betatakin Canyon in Navajo National Monument were investigated to understand the influence of such crusts on soil moisture relationships and potential sediment production. Crusts sampled were part of the pinyon-juniper community and were studied in paired units. The presence of crusts on soils significantly increased the depth of water penetration and decreased runoff. Soils showed reduced infiltration of water where lichen and algal crusts were present and enhanced infiltration rates where mosses were present. Crusts appear to cause surface sealing and therefore likely reduce surface evaporation rates as well.