Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Deserts are the most abundant and persistent terrestrial biome. Environmental stress limits higher plants and animals and so microbial communities dominate in soils and rock surfaces. These form the critical zone of biological interaction in deserts and they perform the majority of ecosystem functions. These communities are critical to stabilization of the desert mineral substrate, and their disturbance can contribute to massive destabilization and mobilization of dust. This results in dust storms that are transported across inter-continental distances. Dust mobilization impacts local biotic interactions and land use, but also leads to problems that manifest at regional scales, such as altered hydrological regimes, changes to oceanic nitrogen fixation, coral reef senescence and increasingly as a threat to human health. more...

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