Award Date

12-1-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Science

First Committee Member

Scott R. Abella

Second Committee Member

LLoyd R. Stark

Third Committee Member

Stanley D. Smith

Fourth Committee Member

Matthew A. Bowker

Number of Pages

179

Abstract

Biological soil crusts (BSCs) are sensitive to anthropogenic disturbances. Natural recovery takes many years. Active restoration decreases recovery time. Native BSC inocula, which included lichens and mosses, salvaged from gypsiferous soil habitats in Lake Mead National Recreation Area (LMNRA) in the eastern Mojave Desert were stored dry for two years and applied to disturbed soil after a road reconstruction in LMNRA and also used in laboratory experiments to test inoculation technique effectiveness. After 18 months, field results revealed positive relationships between inoculation and the presence of macroscopic BSC cover, cyanobacteria abundance, soil stability, and ammonium concentrations. Chlorophyll fluorescence monitoring of the dominant lichen Collema revealed specimens from field sites had equivalent or higher values than undisturbed specimens indicating photosynthetic recovery after salvage, storage, and field application. Laboratory slurry treatments showed significant evidence of cyanobacteria growth after eight months. The results from this thesis research have direct implications for ecosystem management.

Keywords

Aridland ecology; Arid regions ecology; Biological soil crust; Cryptobiotic soil; Gypsiferous soil; Nevada; Restoration; Soil crusting; Soil restoration; Soils – Gypsum content; United States – Lake Mead National Recreation Area; United States – Mojave Desert

Disciplines

Biology | Desert Ecology | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources and Conservation | Soil Science

Language

English