By: Willy Suh


The hot, cold, semiarid, and coastal deserts are the four types of deserts in the world. The hot deserts are mostly located in the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. Cold deserts are located in Greenland, the artic ecozone of North America and Antarctica. Semiarid deserts are located in North America, Europe, Eurasia and Northern Asia. Coastal deserts are located in Chile, South West Africa, Southern California and Baja California.


For the hot desert their average temperature is 72 Fahrenheit and its average rainfall is very low especially when it is winter and when it does rain it comes down as a heavy downpour and its season is always a hot summer. For the cold desert their average temperature is between 39 Fahrenheit to 28 Fahrenheit and its average rainfall is 15 to 26 cm its season never changes so it is always snowy and cold. For the semiarid desert their average temperature is 70 Fahrenheit to 81 Fahrenheit and its average rainfall is very little and its season is mostly a dry summer. For the coastal deserts their average temperature is 55 Fahrenheit to 75 Fahrenheit in the summer and its average rainfall is very low but they mostly have fog or mist, especially in the winter.

Plant life

Plant life in deserts are very harsh to the plants and they have to face many challenges. Some challenges are how to get enough water, how to reproduce and how to avoid being eaten. In hot and semiarid deserts, photosynthesis is the biggest thing for plants to survive and grow. Conservation of water is also the top priority for plant vegetation. Many plants reduce the size of their leaves or abandon completely all of them. But cacti are desert specialists, they have shallow roots in order for them to quickly absorb water when it rains and they conserve the water until the next downpour which could be months and even years. One special cacti that can live very well in deserts is the saguaro cacti that lives Sonoran desert. Saguaro my grow slowly but they can live up 2 hundred years old. The surface of its trunk is folded like a concertina which allows it to expand which can hold 8 tons of water after a good downpour. It can live in any hot and semiarid desert with no problem at all. Another good cactus that survive well in the desert is the barrel cactus which also lives in the Mojave and Sonoran desert. It can be easily distinguished by other cacti because of its cylinder shaped form. It can reach to a height of 11 feet tall and it is one of the tallest cacti in the North American deserts. The barrel cactus have 3 to 4 inch spikes all around it that it will hurt any animal when they try to eat it. Like the Saguaro cactus the barrel cactus quickly absorbs the water to its roots and it stores them in its spikes until the next downpour. The Agave Americana is another plant that survives well in the Semiarid deserts. The Agave can adapt to any desert, the hot, cold, semiarid, and the coastal. it can reach a height up to six feet and it has leaves that are a curve like shape which helps the rain to drip down and go to its roots. These plants need water occasionally or they will wither and start to die. A Prickly pear is a unique type of cactus that survives in the desert it grows low to the ground and has leaves that are thick and wide so it cools the ground around the cactus roots so when water is in the soil it won't evaporate quickly and it also has shallow roots to quickly absorb and conserve the water until the next downpour. There are also trees that can survive the desert too and one of them is the Joshua Tree. The Joshua tree has lots of shallow roots that grow close to the ground so when it rains it can quickly absorb the water and contains it. Its leaves are also wax coated so when it rains the leaves keep the water and it doesn't drip and fall. Almost all plants in the desert have shallow roots so it can quickly absorb the water that is in the soil.


Animals in hot and semiarid deserts have to face many challenges and need to adapt into a lot of things in order for them to survive. Avoiding heat, dissipating heat, retaining water and acquiring water are the four main crucial things for them. Some animals avoid heat by staying in a lot of shades and some of them are also nocturnal. So some of them usually sleep during the hot and sunny day. In order for the animals to dissipate heat they open their mouth and gape to exhaust body heat, some have enormous ears to act like a radiator for them. Also animals with lighter coloration on their skin can reflect light. Retaining water for animals is one of the most desperate thing in need. When it rains and the soil is moist the animals lie down on the ground so their skin can absorb the water. They also obtain their by eating their food. Now their most important resource is water. Many of the animals derive water from the plants so they can suck the moisture out of it. They can also live in underground dens to recycle the moisture from their breaths and they also have specialized kidneys to extract water from their urine. In cold deserts the land is so treacherous that barely any animals live and vegetation can barely live too. Animals can only live off by eating small wildflower and they grow in June or July. In the cold desert not a single mammal, reptile and amphibian lives there because it is too cold. But the ice caps are fill with sea birds and sea mammals. Seals also live there and they eat fish and krill. The musk oxen can also live there because they have a thick fur that keeps them warm and they paw at the know to eat little patches of grass that is underneath the snow. The animals get plenty of water by eating the ice on the ground there is plenty and will never run out. In coastal deserts, seals live there too and they catch the same food as the seals in the cold desert. Other animals also live there such as the American grey fox. The fox eats on eggs, fruits, lizards and more. Also birds and reptiles and many more live in the coastal desert too. The animals get their water from eating other animals and the coastal deserts gets foggy and it provides enough moisture and water for the animals. Another interesting animal that lives in the desert is the desert tortoise. The desert tortoise burrows itself under the sand to survive from the heat and it helps to cool him down. The tortoises can survive about a year without water and when they are in need of water they get the water from their diet. In order to obtain water the tortoises dig hold in the sand to catch the water and have the water to themselves.


One example of competition is when hawks, owls, coyotes and other carnivores in the desert all compete for the same limited resource such as mice almost all the carnivores eat the mice as on of their limited resource. Another example is the the Gila monster and the snakes. They both like to eat eggs so they must compete against each other to catch their limited resource. One cooperation together are the meerkats. They all work together so they can all survive in the desert. They spot danger and warn the others and they also dig together to make their home. Another example are the different types of birds living on the cactus's. The birds live together and on one cactus and thy share it to them if they don't bother each other. So it helps bids to live and survive by having a home too.

Predator/Prey Relationships

one example of the Predator/Prey relationship is the Baja Lizard and the Cactus. The cactus stores water in its roots and the Baja lizard get water from eating the cactus. Another way is the hawk and the lizard. The hawk eats its prey by getting its water and food and it doesn't have to get ready for the next rainfall to quickly store it.

Interesting Facts

The word desert, means abandoned place.

1/3 of earths globe is covered in deserts

Ecological Concerns

Some threats to the biome are when off road vehicles drive over many plants and animals will even have a harder time to find water then. Another threat to the desert is when nuclear waste is thrown into the desert ground which is pollution. 2 endangered species in the desert are the prairie dogs and the desert tortoises. They both die because a lack of water and when off road vehicles drive over them. One global importance of the biome is that we have different species that live only in deserts and if deserts were destroyed they be extinct. Also without deserts we wouldn't have a natrual balance of the world.