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Anything but void
Credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher
Visitors to the arid regions of the world often first see an area that seems to be almost void of life. Yet here in these desert lands are commonly found a specialized community of lichen, algae, moss, fungus and cyanobacteria that are referred to as cryptobiotic soil or "soil crust." These living organisms literally bind the loose desert soil together, preventing erosion and aiding in the retention of life-sustaining moisture.