Desert Biome

Diving deeper into the Desert Biome

Mojave Desert

The Term Mojave originates from the Spanish Language. The meaning from this word is "beside the water". The Mojave Desert is one of the hot and dry deserts. The Mojave Desert is often called a "high desert" because of its' elevations being found at 2,000 to 5,000 feet. The Mojave Desert is part of southeastern California and portions of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. In all the Mojave Desert occupies over 25,000 square miles. One of Mojaves more notorious places is Death Valley, which is the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below sea level.

Climate Conditions

In the summer months (June, July, and August) temperatures are said to reach well over 100 degrees. Throughout the month of June the average high was 89 degrees and the average low was 64 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of June was .04 inches. Throughout the month of July the average high was 96 degrees and the average low was 70 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of July was .31 inches. Throughout the month of August the average high was 96 degrees and the average low was 67 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of August was .28 inches.


In the fall months (September, October, and November) the temperatures start out pretty hot but by the end of fall they cool down a little. Throughout the month of September the average high was 88 degrees and the average low was 61 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of September was .16 inches. Throughout the month of October the average high was 78 degrees and the average low was 50 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of October was .35 inches. Throughout the month of November the average high was 65 degrees and the average low was 40 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of November was .59 inches.


In the winter months (December, January, and February) the temperatures are all pretty similar and there are not many changes that happen. Throughout the month of December the average high was 56 degrees and the average low was 33 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of December was .91 inches. Throughout the month of January the average high was 57 degrees and the average low was 33 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of January was 1.18 inches. Throughout the month of February the average high was 60 degrees and the average low was 37 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of February was 1.54 inches.


In the spring months (March, April, and May) the temperatures are constantly climbing and getting ready for the summer months. Throughout the month of March the average high was 66 degrees and the average low was 41 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of March was .98 inches. Throughout the month of April the average high was 71 degrees and the average low was 46 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of April was .24 inches. Throughout the month May the average high was 80 degrees and the average low was 56 degrees. The average amount of precipitation for the month of May was .12 inches.

Mojave Desert Climate Conditions

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Animals

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake has a very unique color that allows it blend in the background of the desert. The snake also is the cool ability to feel the heat of its prey, which allows it to hunt in the day or the night. This feature allows it to hunt at night so that it can stay out of the scorching hot heat during the day.
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Desert Coyote

The coyotes that live in the desert usually live in a den or in a hole. By living in their hole or den they are protected from the heat and the wind that is in the desert. One things that helps a coyote when it comes to eating is that they can eat just about anything. They are not picky eaters so whatever they find to eat is good for them. They are also able to hunt in the day and at night.
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Red Tailed Hawk

The Red Tailed Hawk is a bird that kills small animals for it food. This bird has very long claws so that is can easily kill its prey. The bird also can fly around and stay out of the heat so that it does not burn. by being able to fly, the bird is able to stay away from most of the animals that are trying to kill it. This is a very good thing for the bird because it is easy for the bird to stay alive.
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Plants

Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree has become a symbol for the desert and it provides a very safe place for many of the animals that are in the desert to stay. This tree grows in elevation from 3,000-7,000 feet with an average life span of 150 years. As protection from predation, Joshua Trees often germinate under nurse plants until the age of four. Once their spiny limbs develop, they eventually over take the nurse plant.
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Cholla

The Cholla is part of the Cacti family. This plant uses CAM photosynthesis to convert energy from the sun into food. Mesophyll cells in the leaves convert carbon dioxide into organic acids. This allows the cholla to conserve water by keeping the stomata closed during the day; the traditional pathway for photosynthesis. This cool way of getting food helps the plant survive in the hot and dry desert. All the plant need is the sun to survive.
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Creosote

The rings of the Creosote are considered the oldest living things on the planet. This plant is very tough and it tolerates arid conditions to survive. It competes very aggressively with other plants for water and it usually wins. It is usually about 4 feet high, but it has been said that they can grow up to 12 feet.
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Soil

Soil Nutrients

Even though you think of the desert as very dry and probably very low in soil nutrients, the soil is full of living organisms that are a vital part of the deserts ecosystem. These living organisms and their by-products create a continuous crust on the soil surface. The general color, surface appearance, and amount of coverage of these crusts vary depending on climate and disturbance patterns. The organisms in crusts protect the soil from erosion in a variety of ways. Some organisms, such as cyanobacteria and micro fungi, protect themselves from sharp sand grains by secreting sticky mucilage around their cells. The soil crust is very important in the absorption of rain. When it rains the organisms and the soil soak up a ton of water that the plants can take in to grow. This is how the desert maintains itself and how all the animals and plant supply themselves. Crust organisms contribute nutrients and organic matter to desert soils. Because plant cover is scarce, crusts are an important source of organic material for desert soils. Because most living crust biomass is concentrated in the top 1/8th inch of the soil, even small impacts can have profound consequences. A single footprints has a terrible effect on the desert ecosystem. Damage that has been done to the material that lies under the surface cannot be repaired because the living organisms are only on the surface.
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Zack Lightsey