Living under a translucent rock can be quite comfortable — if you’re a moss in the Mojave Desert.
A graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, found that some mosses in the California desert seek protection from the relentless sun and heat by sheltering under translucent quartz pebbles, essentially using the rocks as sunshades.
The soil under these rocks retains more moisture than exposed desert soil, said Jenna Ekwealor, while enough light leaks through the milky quartz to allow the tiny mosses to remain green with chlorophyll. Mosses actually prefer dim light, making these conditions ideal for growth. In contrast, nearby mosses in full sun are dried up and black. Read more.
“What the heck is this!” Bartholomaus recalls thinking. He’s a glaciologist at the University of Idaho.
Scattered across the glacier were balls of moss. “They’re not attached to anything and they’re just resting there on ice,” he says. “They’re bright green in a world of white.” Read more.
Often overlooked, this miniature plant has more to it than meets the eye. Read more.
Without its cover of living microorganisms, the desert is eroding. Read more.
By destroying biocrust communities, climate change may be making arid lands more reflective — which could slow down warming. Read more.
Chances are you’ve walked over silver moss (Bryum argenteum) countless times without giving it a second glance. This moss, at home in moist environments as well as hot and cold deserts, is also a common denizen of cities worldwide and finds shelter in our pavement cracks. Read more.
Meet the new weed on the block, perhaps one better suited to medical rather than recreational use. Read more.
Kids love to play in the dirt. So Flagstaff ecologist Anita Antoninka is channeling that love into learning… using it as a way to teach kids about the effects of climate change on the earth’s biocrust. Today, she’s working with a seventh grade science class at Northland Preparatory Academy to see how a warming planet affects moss. Read more.
Inside NAU – Season 11