Great Basin Naturalist


A total of 66 algal species representing 32 genera were recovered from soils of 10 sites in the Cataviña region of the Central Desert of Baja California, Mexico. The most common species encountered were the cyanophytes Nostoc commune and Schizothrix calcicola, the chlorophyte Myrmecia astigmatica, and the diatoms Hantzschia amphioxys, Hantzschia amphyoxys f. capitata, Luticola cohnii, Luticola mutica, and Pinnularia borealis var. scalaris. Nine species not found in any previous studies of North American desert soils were present in our study sites, including 3 taxa new to science: Cylindrocystis brebissonii var. deserti, var. nov.; Elakatothrix obtusata, sp. nov.; and Fasciculochloris mexicana, sp. nov. Attempts to correlate species composition with soil chemical and physical parameters were unsuccessful apart from a pH effect on cyanobacterial distribution. Overall composition of the soil algal community in the Cataviña region is distinct from other desert sites we have studies, although some cosmopolitan desert soil taxa were present.