The activities associated with urban expansion into once undisturbed parts of our deserts is the greatest threat to our biocrusts in Southern Arizona.
Biocrusts are microscopic organisms including mosses, lichens, and algae that make up the top layer of soil. The organisms work together to prevent erosion and dust storms by stabilizing the Earth below them by using enzyme secretions that act as an adhesive.
Soil disturbances such as military activity, cattle grazing, other types of agriculture, and recreational activities like off-road four-wheeling vastly contribute to the destruction of biocrusts.
Biocrust researchers from across the state are exploring soil restoration methods in a variety of ecosystems including the Sonoran Desert.
For more information, see this article.