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The Scientist has asked a group of experts to periodically comment upon recent articles that they have found noteworthy. Their selections, presented here In every issue, are neither endorsements of content nor the result of systematic searching. Rather they are personal choices of articles they believe the scientific community as a whole may also find interesting. Reprints of any articles cited here may be ordered through The Genuine Article, 3501 Markst St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19104, or by tel

The Scientist Staff

The Scientist has asked a group of experts to periodically comment upon recent articles that they have found noteworthy. Their selections, presented here In every issue, are neither endorsements of content nor the result of systematic searching. Rather they are personal choices of articles they believe the scientific community as a whole may also find interesting. Reprints of any articles cited here may be ordered through The Genuine Article, 3501 Markst St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19104, or by telephoning (215)886-4399.

BY PETER D. MOORE

Department of Biology
King’s College
London, U.K.

" The development of deserts and arid lands dates back into the Pliocene as global temperatures and rainfall became reduced and former forests broke up. In the last 0.5 million years the increasing intensity of climatic fluctuation in the glacial interglacial cycle, coupled with human impact in the current interglacial era, has led to the extensive arid lands of today....

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