The Desert

The most dry of all

Vitals of the Desert

The major deserts of the world include the Sahara, Antarctica, Gobi, and Kalahari deserts.

Abiotic Factors

The dessert is known quite well for its dry, hot air. Although it is the most dry biome on earth due to a severe lack of rainfall (dryness is a key factor in determining whether a biome is a dessert at all), the stereotype of intense heat is incorrect. One of the biggest desserts in the world is Antarctica, which happens to also be one of the coldest places on earth. Even sandy desserts can have severe temperature drops when the sun sets; The average day to night temperature difference is 40°C.


Climate of Biome

Average Temperature

The average temperature of all the deserts is majorly impacted by their different locations on the earth. Therefore the data would be more reliable if the places were separated. Below are the average temperatures for two of the biggest desserts on the earth, one cold and one hot.

Antarctica:

High Average: -49°F

Low Average: -56°F

Temperature in Antarctica has been known to go as high as -17°F and as low as -81°F.

Sahara:

Average Temperature: About 93°F

Temperature in the Sahara Dessert has been known to range from 136.4°F to 55°F.

Average Rainfall

What defines a desert is its large lack of rainfall: Most deserts see less than 300mm (30cm) a year. Being the driest area even for a desert, some regions in the Sahara desert don't even see a drop of rain for years.


Seasonal Changes

The desert has a relatively normal change in temperature throughout the seasons. In Antarctica the drop can be from 17 degrees to 70 degrees, but is usually somewhere in-between. In the Sahara the extreme difference throughout seasons is 81°F, although the average difference is imaginably about 60°F.


Plant Life

A day in the life (Of a Desert Plant)

Desert plants are some of the strongest plants, because they can live off of less than 3 inches of water, a plant's main resource, a year. Many desert plants are characteristically spiky, a unique defense system. They are this way because even if an animal chews off a small amount of the plant, the plant has lost a valuable amount of water. Therefore they created the spikes all over themselves, a cunning mechanism for an organism that never moves.


Big image
The six plants above are all cactus, one of the very few plants that can survive the desert: and you can tell why just by looking at them. The first and obvious one is spikes, the point of which I described above. The second one is that none of these plants look like 'normal' plants, which have a stem and leaves (the jade cactus has a resemblance to these types of plants, but has a lot more leaves then them and they also point quite up). Whether they are tall, round, or neither of the above, they all have one thing in common: storage space. Four of the above cactus do not have leaves, but thick stems that can function just as well. Inside of these 'stems' the cactus store a form of the most vital thing in the desert: A drink. Both the Jade cactus and the Star cactus also have very thick leaves, whose purpose is the same thing. When you get less than 3 inches of something a year, it is vital to find any way possible to store it, and the above plants found their ways. The last thing, which also coincides with either the large stem or the thick leaves, is defense against the heat. If the plant doesn't have flimsy leaves, they are less likely to drop when the heat becomes too much.


Animal Life

Common Animal Life

As with the plants, animals are also struggling for a constant supply of water, however, they also have other issues. First off, they can't grow spikes quite like the plants, so they have to find their own ways of defense when other creatures are hunting them down. Also, because there isn't much vegetation, shelter is very hard to find, so the ones that can make their own shelter. Over all, the life of a desert animal is extremely hard, but they find ways of living, and some even find ways to flourish.
Big image
Big image
Animals have adapted to solve many of the above problems. From the pictures above, one of the first things you might have noticed is the fur color. The color of pretty much every one of these animals is similar to that of the dessert sand. With the heat rays distorting vision only slightly, and with the vast space of one color, it becomes hard for the predator to see the prey, or the opposite. The sandy colors really help the animals utilize this. Another thing that MOST of the above animals have adapted are long, fast legs for running. In the desert, an often dry and flat place, there is no hiding, so running is the only way to escape or catch. The long/powerful legs that animals developed also help them survive in this way. Many of the animals on the lower part of the food chain have developed strong, sharp fore paws that help them dig. In a place with little to no shelter, these claws help them create their own. A quick break from the hot sun is also easily appreciated by using these paws.

Yet more Complications

As the desert species are dealing with the above problems, they also have even more to watch our for: each other. Not only must they be on a constant look out for predators, but also on the look out for one another. At any moment a meerkat could run up behind another and steal its food, putting the other one in danger of starvation. However, at the same time, two meerkats could also work together to gain food, so at the end of the day they would have more. This could help the rodents run from any of their fierce predators, including snakes. Likewise, the lizard has to watch out to make sure that he's the only one stalking a bug, but at the same time, he could work with another lizard to scare the bug into the other's stomach. And as the meerkat watches out for the snake, the lizard watches out for the hawk, and the snake watches out for the fox as the insects watch out for the scorpions.

Fun facts!

Come on, who said a large vast wasteland of sand isn't fun? There are many interesting things!


  1. The reason that there is a huge difference between night and day temperatures is because the air is so dry, the heat practically vanishes at night.
  2. One third of the earth is desert.
  3. Desert means 'abandoned place'
  4. The two facts above are hinting that we can only live on 2/3 the land on this earth, which, in my opinion, is not a good thing.
  5. Deserts often contain large mineral deposits.

Ecological Concerns

THREATS

Because we can not live for long in this biome, we don't threaten it too much. The only two things we could gain a lot from in this biome are minerals and sunlight. Working in this environment, however, to set up these things is a difficult task and therefore is often completed in other places. In conclusion, the desert is hard to live in for humans, and therefore we don't threaten the environment.

In fact, it's probably safer to say that the desert is threatening us- every year it grows, an effect caused by both the spreading of the sand and global warming.

Endangered Desert Species

Bald Eagle

The very well-known bird, particularly to the Americans, is (and has been for a while) endangered. It takes home in the Mojave desert, as well as other places.

Mountain Lion

These animals have always been seen as a sign of strength, but if things continue how they are, they are not going to be for much longer. The mountain lions reside in the sandy mountains in the desert, as well as other places.

Importance

The desert biome is an important biome because it houses many animals who have learned to only be able to live where no water is. If all of the deserts stopped existing one day, there would be no place for the cactus to live because they would flood themselves with all the water. Also, with all of the new vegetation that would grow, all of the sandy-colored animals would become easy to spot and whole species would become extinct.


We, as humans, could also not produce as much solar power, although this isn't as big of a problem.

Bibliography

Buleen, Chad. "Average Temperature of Antarctica." USA Today Travel Trips. USA Today, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.

"Desert : Mission: Biomes." NASA Earth Observatory. NASA, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.

"Fun Desert Facts for Kids - Interesting Information about the Sahara & More." Earth Facts. Science Kids, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.

Makofsky, Nina. "Types of Climate in the Sahara Desert." USA Today Travel Tips. USA Today, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.

"Mojave Desert." Desert USA. Desert USA, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.