Soils and their biodiversity are presently under threat owing to global changes such as excessive land exploitation, climate change, pollution, and invasions of new species. All ecosystems on Earth are currently suffering the impact of these environmental pressures. The fraction of arid to semiarid ecosystems on Earth is increasing due to desertification. Furthermore, anthropogenic (human-driven) activities have resulted in substantial changes in nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes, altering global nutrient cycles.
Threats to the soils of the UAE: The dry nature of desert soils makes them very fragile as the recovery from environmental pressures is particularly difficult. Wind erosion has been shown to be the major cause of degradation by drifting soil (causing dust storms and Nabkha dunes, an indicator of dryland degradation). Soil salinity is also becoming a threat to farms and coastal areas. Climate change, waterlogging, overgrazing and landfilling for urban development are other factors that have been threatening the soils of the UAE.
Climate change and soil biodiversity
Climate change influences soil biodiversity directly due to changes in temperature and moisture, and also indirectly due to alterations in resource supply from plants. Combined, these lead to changes in the physiology and growth of many soil organisms, in turn causing alterations in the composition of soil communities. As a consequence, new traits and life histories within soil communities will be selected which may drive aboveground ecosystems and evolutionary dynamics to be affected, including the emission of greenhouse gas and leaching of dissolved carbon and nutrients from the soil. The increased frequency of extreme climatic events (temperature and precipitation, for example) seen and further expected globally is likely to have large impacts on ecosystems and, particularly, soil biodiversity.