When one thinks of the flora and fauna in an ecological system, certain parts stand out. Those might include water sources, large vegetation and animals, from earthworms to elk. However, most of us don’t give much thought to the very detailed and small-scale structure that exists as part of the ground covering, known as the crust. This crust is not one thing, but is instead made up of many parts which depend on many conditions, including its own geographical location. And yet, this seemingly inconsequential piece plays an important role in the general health of the entire environment. Dr. Jayne Belnap, of the USGS in Moab, Utah talks to us this week about her studies on this important part of our world.