Desert Biome Description
The desert biome is one that is very hot and dry. They are found at the lower latitudes, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Light winds occur often which evaporates any type of moisture that is typically going to develop in them. The heat is very dry and that makes it hard for too many types of plants or animals to be able to survive in such biomes. Approximately 20% of the Earth falls into this category.
Some of the desert biomes are extremely large. For example the Sahara desert in Africa is more than 3.5 million square miles in size. Others are extremely dry. For example the Atacama desert in Chile is a place that gets about ½ an inch of precipitation annually. It never rains there – the precipitation comes from the fog.
|Climate||From 32 °F at night and 113 °F at day.|
|Plants||Cactus, shrubs, Cardón, Camel Thorn Tree, Prickly pear, Saguaro.|
|Animals||Snakes, lizards, tarantulas, dingo, porcupines, coyotes.|
|Location||North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.|
The desert biome has two extremes that make it difficult to survive. First, it is extremely hot and second, it is extremely dry. Most people don’t realize though that it can be come cold as the sun goes down in the desert. This is because there are very few trees or other elements there to retain any heat. The changes in the temperatures can be very harsh for a human which is why it can be so dangerous to be exploring in the desert on your own.
One of the famous desert biomes out there is called Death Valley. It is located in the Mojave Desert which is in the United States. It spans through three states – Arizona, Nevada, and California. It is 25,000 square miles of sand as far as the eyes can see.
That says it all when most people consider what this particular area is going to be like. Many desert biomes can go several years at a time without any rainfall at all. It will depend though on the exact location as there is quite a bit of difference when you consider the conditions on these environments.
Desert Biome Characteristics
A desert biome is one that receives less than 10 inches of annual precipitation. What some people don’t realize is that a desert can be extremely hot during the day but then very cool at night. The extreme changes in temperature from day to night can make it very hard for living things to successfully thrive in such an environment.
Many desert biomes are formed in areas not too far from mountain locations. Scientists believe that this is the result of a rain shadow. The process involves air moving up and over the mountain range. As it moves though it gets cooler which means it is harder for it to retain any moisture. That is when it will rain or even snow if the temperatures are cool enough.
However, the opposite is going to occur as the air is moving down the other side of the mountain. It is going to get warmer as it moves downward. This warm air though is going to hold on to the moisture in it. When you are talking about temperatures that easily exceed 100 degrees in many desert biomes, that is why it hardly ever is going to rain in these locations.
Desert Biome Fauna
There is very limited types of plant and animal life that are able to live in the desert biome. Those that do live in the desert biome have learned to adapt to the temperatures. They have also learned to survive with very little water and very little food. The majority of the animals living in the desert biome are nocturnal. This means they sleep during the heat of the day and they are active at night when the sun goes down.
Desert animals don’t need to feed very often which is why almost all of them are very small. They also don’t need to find water independently. They get the water they need from their sources of food. Ants are quite plentiful in the desert biome. They create underground tunnels where they are able to stay out of the heat.
A variety of rodents including mice and the shrew live in these conditions as well. The desert biome is also where you will find the tarantula. These spiders are very dangerous and they don’t seem to mind the harsh conditions either. Medium sized animals found living in the desert biome include rabbits, rattlesnakes, and porcupines.
Of course there are larger animals in the desert biome as they are able to feed on the small ones. Don’t be surprised if you find the puma, bobcat or dingo around. In various areas of the desert biome there are deer living there that they will find upon. In certain desert locations you will also find camels.
One of the living creatures in the desert biome that thrives with these harsh conditions is the Gila Monster. It is a very aggressive type of retile. It feeds on eggs and on small mammals. This creature needs the heat for its body to stay regulated. It can be active both during the day and the night. They are very dangerous to humans due to the toxic venom that is produced when they bite.
Desert Biome Flora
In order for any plants to survive in the desert biome, they have to be able to collect and store what water is present. They also have to be able to reduce the water evaporating from them. The cactus is the number one plant you will find living in a desert biome. The design of this plant makes it possible for them to hold onto the moisture they have.
The hard leaves make it possible for them to handle the extreme changes in temperature from day to night that occur in a desert biome. The cactus also has a hairy texture that helps the plants to reflect the heat from the sun. This is why they are able to withstand that high level of heat without suffering.
In the Canary Islands you will find the Dragon Tree living. That is the only desert biome where it grows. It has a long truck and then wide leaves that are very hard. It can create a sap that is very dark red in color. The aloe plant is also found in the desert biome. Aloe has always been a very important type of natural healing medicine. It helps to soothe burns and to promote healing.
The future for the desert biome is one that many worry about. Issues including global warming continue to cause changes to the natural pattern of weather behaviors. The desert is already extremely dry and hot. Should those temperatures continue to increase then there could be problems for the plants and animals that live there.
When you combine that with the possibility of additional heat is going to reduce the already low amount of rainfall, it could spell out disaster. These plants and animals are already surviving with so little. It would be next to impossible for them to be able to continue to thrive in such an environment with even less. There are all ready projections that claim the diversity of plants and animals in the desert biome will decrease by at least 15% over the next 50 years.