Great Basin Naturalist


Lichens are common components of microbiotic soil crusts. A total of 34 species from 17 genera are reported from soil crust communities throughout the Intermountain Area. Distribution of terricolous lichens is determined by various physical and biological factors: physical and chemical characteristics of the soil, moisture regimes, temperature, insolation, and development and composition of the vascular plant community. Some species demonstrate a broad ecological amplitude while others have a more restricted distribution. All growth forms are represented; however, the vast majority of soil crust lichens are squamulose (minutely foliose). Fruticose species are least abundant. In exposed, middle-elevation sites vagrant (detached) species are common. This paper describes and discusses terricolous lichen communities of desert habitats of the intermountain western United States. Effects of various human-related activities including grazing, wildfire, air pollution, and recreation vehicles on soil crust lichens are discussed. Gypsoplaca macrophylla (Zahlbr.) Timdal, a rare squamulose lichen which occurs on gypsifersous soils, was recently collected in Emery County, Utah, and is reported as new to the state.