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  • Sunset at Mojave Desert in Twentynine Palms, CA

The desert floor may look like dirt and sand but it is full of living small and microscopic organisms vital to the park’s ecosystem. Many of these organisms live in biological highly active soil crusts that cover the first inch of the desert soil surface. In this field class Nat Pombububpa, Julia Adam, and Tania Kurbessoian will introduce crypto-biotic soil crusts with an emphasis on fungi, soil algae, and lichens. Participants will study the secret life of these microscopic organisms as they demystify this thin layer of soil. This class will discuss the components of crusts such as cyanobacteria (one of the oldest known life forms on earth), green algae, diatoms, bacteria, fungi, and lichens. During the lab session, participants will see the biodiversity of the park’s crusts up close through two different types of microscopes. On the second day, the class will go into the field to identify and assess the condition of several types of algal and lichen soil crust communities found in Joshua Tree National Park.

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A new regional stay-at-home order is currently in effect for the Southern California region. The order prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others. Hotels and lodging remain open for essential travel only. Learn more about how our businesses are modifying operations to support local, state, and federal efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.