Desert Biome

By: Ashwin Rathie

Vitals

Locations:

  • Northern Africa
  • Middle East
  • Central Amercica
  • Central Australia


Abiotic factors:

  • Average Rainfall: 28 cm per year
  • Average Temperature: 20-25 degrees celsuis
  • In general, it is hot, dry, and arid.

Climate

Average Temperature: 20-25 degrees celcius

Average Rainfall: 28 cm per year


Climate is usually hot and dry.

Very hot during day, very cold during nighttime.


Seasonal Changes:

Very brief and rare sessions of rain occur. Rain comes in great abundance for short amount of time.

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Plant Life

Because of the harsh, dry climate, plant life is scarce in most parts of the biome.

Plants have had to adapt to these conditions to survive. They had to find a way to preserve their water and get as much water as they could in this dry climate


Characteristic Plants:

Cactus: This iconic desert plant has an effective adaptation. It has a thick, waxy layer on its surface. It is able to help retain water and protect tissues from intense sunlight and heat, which causes transpiration.


Agave Plant: This plants have a very distinct architecture to help their survival. Their Leaves are shaped in a way that even tiny amount of rain are caught. They slide down the leaves right to the roots.


Golden Barrel: This plant has a very simple adaptation. It has a very slow growth rate, which makes it so that they don't need much water to survive. The desert biome doesn't receive much rain, but luckily, this plant doesn't need much anyway.


Brittle Bush: This plant's adaptation is interesting. Its leaves are covered by a thick mat of shot hair. This hair is crucial to the plant's survival. It helps to insulate the plant from heat. Additionally, they help by trapping any moisture in the air.


Chainfruit Cholla: This plant very closely resembles a tree, although it is not. It has a dense layer of sharp spines, similar to a cactus. These spines reflect the sunlight away from the tree, helping to prevent overheating.


Animals

Animals in the desert biome have to have adaptations that are engineered to preserve water; keep cool; and find food, shelter, and water, all of which are scarce.


Characteristic Animals:

The Armadillo Lizard: This lizard has unique nostrils. They are formed into little tubes that enable the lizard to smell food and predators easily. Its head body and tail are flattened, which allows it to get into rock crevices for shelter.


Jerboas: These desert animals are able to find cacti and get water. This plant is crucial for their survival. The Jerboas are able to eat the cactus, despite its thorns, to get their water.


Darkling Beetle: This crafty and smart little insect has found a way to get water from fog. Fog comes in from the coast and the darkling beetle can take advantage of this. They will sit on top of dunes with their abdomens pointing upwards. The fog from the coast condenses back into water on their cool bodies and trickle into their mouths.


Spadefoot Toad: This animal is able to avoid a drought by estivating. Estivation is when an animal will "sleep" through a drought to avoid it. It is similar to hibernation. They sleep for months underground in a jellylike substance. It keeps them moist while they sleep.


Camel: The camel is an iconic desert animal. It has adapted tot he desert in many ways. It stores its fat in its humps. This allows the body to let heat escape from other parts of the body and help it survive long periods of time without food and water.


Cooperation/Competition:

The Yucca Moth and the Yucca Plant: This is a cooperative partnership and an example of mutualism. The Yucca moth pollinates the Yucca and the Yucca serves as a breeding and nesting area for the Yucca moth.


Eagles and rattlesnakes: These animals compete for the same prey, small birds. Although both have very different abilities, they have the same type of prey.


Predator/Prey Relationships:

The Coyote eats the Western Whiptail lizard.

The Bobcat eats the black tipped jackrabbit.

The Raven eats the pika rodent.

The Western Whiptail eats the red-breasted nuthatch.

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Ecological Concerns

Global Warming: Plants and animals of the desert already have a difficult time surviving in the heat of the desert. Global warming would increase the temperature of the biome and may kill species of plants and animals.


Offroading: Humans often go offroading in the desert. Their vehicles destroy plants. The plants are already very scarce and take a long time to grow. This also leaves the animals with less food and shelter.


Endangered Species:

Lappet-faced Vulture

Desert Tortoise

Kangaroo Rat


Importance: The desert is very important to the world in several ways. For example, much of the world's fossil fuels and crude oil are found in the desert. They have been able to develop under the heat and pressure of the deserts surface. Also, biodiversity in the world is very important as animals and plants adapt.

Additional Info

Interesting Fact: The world largest desert is actually...................Antarctica! Yes, not all desert are hot. There are some cold deserts as well. The largest hot desert in the world is the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa.


References

Works Cited

"Adaptations in Camels." Camel Adaptations ::. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013. <http://www.vtaide.com/png/camel-adaptations4.htm>.

"Desert Adaptations." Desert Adaptations. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013. <http://wc.pima.edu/~bfiero/tucsonecology/adaptations/adaptations_home.htm>.

"Desert Animals." Desert Animals. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013. <http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/desert_animal_page.htm>.

"Desert." Desert. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013. <http://ths.sps.lane.edu/biomes/desert4/desert4.html>.

"Desert." Desert. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013. <http://www.highlands.k12.hi.us/Science_Projects/Desert>.

"Desert Plants." Desert Plants. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.

N.p., n.d. Web.