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Contact Information:

photo of Jayne Belnap © Stephen Trimble
Belnap, Jayne
Research Ecologist
Research Station:
Work Address:
2290 S. West Resource Blvd., Moab, UT 84532
Telephone Number:
(435)719-2333 fax:(435)719-2350
Email Address:

Biographical Sketch:

Jayne Belnap has been a scientist with the Department of Interior since 1987. She received her two undergraduate degrees (in biology and natural history) from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1980; her Masters of Science (Ecology Department) from Stanford University in 1983 and her PhD (Botany and Range Department) from Brigham Young University in 1991. Her dissertation was on the effects of coal-fired power plants on the physiological functioning of biological soil crusts and rock lichens. Over the past 20 years, she has published 105 peer-reviewed articles and books on soil crusts that include a BLM technical reference (co-authored with 3 other BLM scientists) and the only comprehensive book available on the topic. She is recognized by scientists around the globe as one of world's authorities on soil crusts. Dr. Belnap has been invited by many governments to train their scientists in soil crust ecology, including those of South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, China, Siberia, Australia, and Iceland. She travels extensively throughout the U. S., training BLM, NPS, USFS, BIA, DoD, and DOE staff and managers on management of soil crusts. She is past Chair of the Soil Ecology chapter of Ecological Society of America, as well as the President-Elect of the Soil Ecology Society.

Project List

  • Invasive Annual Grasses: We are studying several aspects of invasive grasses. First, we are attempting to identify the factors that enable annual grasses to invade a site so that we can predict ahead of time what areas are susceptible to invasion. We are researching ways to suppress these grasses to facilitate restoration of natives. We are working on ways to carry out prescribed fires without enhancing the susceptibility of the burned areas to invasion. We are also documenting the effect of annual grass invasions on soil food webs, native plants, nutrient cycles, and biological soil crusts.
  • Biological Soil Crusts: We have long studied the role of biological soil crusts in desert ecosystems, including their influence on soil fertility and stability. We also have extensively documented the effects of soil surface disturbance on soil crusts. A new study is addressing the effects of climate change (increased temperatures, altered precipitation regimes) on the structure and function of these soil crusts.
  • Effect of Grazing on Sediment and Runoff Production: Using a set of paired watersheds, we are continuing a 50-year study on the effects of grazing on water runoff and the production of sediment from a Mancos shale landscape. We will be also be comparing levels of salinity and selenium in the water and sediments leaving the grazed and ungrazed watersheds.
  • Mojave Desert: We are developing ways to predict the species composition of biological soil crusts in different areas of the Mojave desert. We are also looking at the effect of off-road vehicles on dust production from different soil types.
  • National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring: We are assisting the National Park Service in developing protocols for indicators of ecosystem health. These indicators include soil stability, soil fertility, vegetation cover and composition, and social trailing.

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