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Biological soil crusts, composed of soil surfaces stabilized by a consortium of cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, lichens, and/or bryophytes, are common in most deserts and perform functions of primary productivity, nitrogen fixation, nutrient cycling, water redistribution, and soil stabilization. The crusts are highly susceptible to disturbance. The degree of perturbation is governed, at least in part, by the nature, intensity, and spatial and temporal distribution of the disturbance, as well as the soil type and soil moisture content at the time of disturbance. When disturbed, biological soil crusts lose their capacity to perform their ecological functions. Natural recovery of disturbed...

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