Life in the Desert

By: Amanda & Haseeb

What are Deserts?

Most people believe deserts are regions of high tempature and is full of sand. This statement is sort of true except it doesn't apply to every kind of desert. Deserts are barren, dry areas that lack life due to climate conditions or soil excesses. There are 4 types of desert regions: desert, semi-desert, sub-desert, and steppe. The main one we'll be focusing on is semi-desert. Semi-deserts are extremely dry regions compose of some organisms and have rainfall annually. The soil in this region isn't loose like sand, it's more dry and hard. The Chihuahuan desert and the Mojave Desert are good examples of semi-desert.

High High Climate

Desert Biome Project - Weather & Tempature

Organism Essentials

Importance of Adaptation

In order to live in such a harsh environment with very little rainfall, the plants and animals must adapt in order to survive. Adaptions are important features of an animal that help it survive. Whatever the feature is, it will always be past down to it's furture offspring.


Plant Adaptations

One of there most common adaptation for desert plants is the spikes. The Resin Spurge (Euphorbia resinifera) have spikey leaves that cause irritation and blindness, preventing animals from eating it. An important adaption for plants is succulence. Succulence is ability to store in moisture during droughts or dry periods. The Prickly Pear Catus (Opuntia) has a wax coating that helps trap in water during the harsh times. Next, we have shallow roots and taproot. Shallow roots allow plants to retrieve water easily when it rains while taproot lets producers get water deeper under ground. A good example for taprroot would have to be Black Saxual (Haloxylon ammondendron) and for shallow root would be Creosote Bush (Larrea). Finally, small leaves. Why? Small leaves minimizes evaportation causing the leaves not to wilt. One good example of small leaves is the Ironwood (Olneya tesota).


Animal Survival

What are some ways to stay cool? Longs appendages or ears allow some animals to circulate air flow in order to cool off. One famous animal that posesses this feature is the Jackrabbit (Lepus). Another incredible adaptation that some animals have is the ability to burrow underground. Creatures go underground because of the low tempature and moisture, such as Meerkats (Suricata suricatta). Higher core tempatures is another good adapatation for desert animals, this allows creatures to survive longer than humans, but only for a short period of time. Take Antelope ground squirrels (Ammospermophilus) for example. They have a core heat of 100-109*F while humans have a core heat of 98.3*F. All living organisms need water, right? The Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) has specialized scales that collect dew into water droplets, which the lizard can easily drink. Even a little bit of water is enough for this tiny creature. Finally not every adaptation is physical, some can be behavioral. The African Pyxie frog (Pyxicephalus adsperus) can “hibernate” within a mucus sack for up to seven years, waiting for the rainy season.

Web of Life

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Pyramid of Life

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The Creation of the Semi-desert

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Humans Change The Desert

Desert Biome Project - Threats

FUN FACTS

  • True deserts cover about 14 percent of the world's land area, or about 8,000,000 square miles (20,800,000 square kilometers). Another 15 percent of the Earth's land surface possesses some desertlike characteristics.
  • The largest cold desert on Earth is Antarctica.
  • Joshua trees only grow in the Mojave Desert and, like other yucca species, rely upon a single species of moth to pollinate their flowers.
  • The desert is home to the Greater One-Horned Rhino, which only have around 3,000 individuals still living to this day.
  • The desert is also home to the Pronghorn, the fastest hoofed animal in north america, can reach speeds up to 60 mph.