Desert

By: Emily Venter

Location and Abiotic Factors

The desert biome is typically a very hot and dry area. There are frequent winds that evaporate all the moisture anywhere in the desert. Because of the lack of trees and other elements, there's nothing to retain heat, thus, the temperature can drop drastically in the night. The temperature ranges form 113 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the night. The desert biome receives less than 10-12 inches of rain per year. This biome can be found in parts of Iran, Southern and Central Pakistan, Northwest India, Southwestern United States, Northern Mexico, and much of Australia. The season changes mostly include changes in plants and the physical look of the desert. The tempature doesn't have a drastic change between seasons. FUN FACT: the original meaning of the word desert is "an abandoned place".


Plants and Animals

Since the climate is so dry, it's hard for many plants and animals to survive. Most plants have certain characteristics that help them survive. Cacti are one example of a plant that lives in the desert. Cacti are xerophytic plants; they are adapted to dry climates. Cacti have long roots that spread out in search of water under a thin layer of the ground. This plant have "feeder roots" that grow and once heavy rain falls, the plant cuts these roots off, so there is less plant to nourish. A cactus's stem is a special type of leaf that prevents animals form eating the spine. A cactus stores as much water as possible and tries to let only the bare minimal be evaporated. Another plant that grows in the desert is a shrub. Shrubs have shallow roots, so they can retain water after it rains easily. Shrubs also use dew for moisture and they also use their leaves and stems to receive water. They have one long root, called a tap root, that reaches far down in the ground to find stored water. Prickly Pears also grow in the desert. These plants fall into the cacti family. Prickly Pears have deep roots in the ground to reach moisture far down int he earth. Their long roots also help if the stem gets detached from the root, because the long roots are sturdy in the ground and will stay in place and just grow another stem. The Camel Thorn Tree is a good provider of shade in the desert, which is normally very scarce. It can grow up to ten meters tall! This tree also has these special seeds all over it that are crucial to the survival of many animals during drought seasons. These seeds can be ground up and they'll produce a drink similar to coffee. One more plant that lives in the desert would be the Cardón. The Cardón is another plant that would be apart of the cacti family. This cactus is a cladophyll, which means it preforms photosynthesis through its skin and it doesn't need any leaves. The cacti's stomata collects carbon dioxide only after dark so it can take advantage of the cool nights. This cactus is very water efficient. Cardón also using crassulacean acid metabolism which reduces the water loss during the process of photosynthesis. This plant also has a shallow root system, so it can collect water after the brief raining periods. Animals also have to adapt to the hot climate of the desert. Snakes are an animal that is commonly found in deserts. A snake's scales are so tight that they hold in all the water, so that none is lost. Snakes are also able to hibernate, which lets their body temperature go down. Another animal that is found in the desert is a tarantula. These spiders dig burrows in the ground to have a cooler and more humid area, and it helps then hide form predators. Dingos are also found in deserts, but not all desert types. Dingos live in areas where scrubland, grass, or spinifex is of abundance. They dig deep in the ground to find water and they have a short coat and then an under coat which helps them again the heat and cool night. Coyotes are very fast animals that live in the desert as well. The coyote is very good at camouflage and it's a predator, eating reptiles, rodents, or cacti and other plants. Lizards are cold blooded animals, which helps them keep a lower body temperature in the hot and dry deserts. Also, if a predator try to grab it by the tail, its tail will just falloff, so the lizard can escape. One example of a predator/ prey relationship is how coyotes eat tarantulas and the tarantulas burrow in the ground to hide from the coyotes. There's also a predator/prey relationship between the hawk and the lizard. Snakes are the predator in their relationship with rodents, which are the prey. One more predator/prey relationship is the tarantulas and insects. Tarantulas are the predator and insects are the prey. In the desert, there is not an abundance of plants and animals, which forces the consumers to compete for food and other elements. Birds and worms both compete for the fruit on the prickly pear. Vultures also compete for the dead animals, sometime this could be an example of intraspecific competition if the same species is fighting over a dead animal. The Fennec Fox and the Caracal are endangered species. The Fennec Fox is an aminal that has a long body and weighs are 3 to 3.5 pounds. The carcal is otherwise known as the African golden cat.


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Ecological Concerns

The golobal importance of the desert biome is that the biome covers one fifth of the world's surface. Many organisms live strictly in the desert, and if the deserts disapear, so would many plants and animals. Deserts are currently suffering from human developement and global warming.

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Food Web

The food web above includes all the major parts of a food web. There are the primary producers; cacti, plants, etc. There are the primary consumers; rats, grasshoppers, and insects. There are the secondary consumers; lizards, mice, and birds. Then the teriatory consumers; hawks, coyotes, etc.

Work Cited

Stetson, N. "Desert Biomes." Desert Biomes. Blue Planet Biomes, 2000. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.


Smith, Jared A. "DESERT PLANTS." Desert Plants. Plant World, 1999. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.


Mowad, Vincent, Oskar Attar, and Cameron Vincze. "Global Significance - The Desert Biome." The Desert Biome. Weebly, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.