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Phenol oxidase and peroxidase activities in desert grassland soils at the Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research site in central New Mexico (USA) are far greater than those of temperate soils. Activity is uniformly distributed across particles ranging from >1 mm to <38 ?m and is unaffected by autoclaving, in contrast to hydrolase activities. The sorbed enzymes are readily extractable and inactivated by boiling. High soil pH, high stabilized oxidative enzyme activity, and carbonates create optimal conditions for degradation of phenols which increase decomposition potentials and limit soil organic matter accumulation. Published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry, volume 40, issue 2, on pages 550 - 553, in 2008.