My research interests include the ecology and management of biological soil crusts, disturbance-dependent species, the role of disturbance in ecosystem functioning and biodiversity, and remote sensing applications to biodiversity.
Much of the U.S. population views deserts as empty, sterile wastelands. My research has shown that, in fact, deserts soils are teeming with life, even in very harsh conditions. This may give us clues into survival strategies under aridification and climate change. Most Americans view disturbance as universally negative. My research has shown that disturbance is often essential to the survival of many organisms, including a large number of threatened and endangered species. Disturbance that is heterogeneously distributed spatially, temporally, and in intensity and kind, promotes maximum biodiversity. This provides a fresh perspective on the repercussions of forest fires, logging, grazing by domestic livestock, off-road vehicle traffic and other 'disurbances' that are often viewed as universally negative.
Much of the research I have conducted has been as an employee of or contractor to the Department of Defense. Major endeavors include: