When you think of the desert biome, elements such as being hot and dry should come to mind. Those are the two key factors that determine where such a biome fits into the world. About 20% of the Earth is made up of such locations. Both the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are around the latitudes of where you will find such biomes. There aren’t too many things that are able to survive in this type of environment.
Still, there are some plants and animals that call it home. Desert biomes can vary in size as well as in heat. One that people are very interested in is Death Valley. It has often been portrayed in old Westerns as a place where most people will die if they spend too much time there. It is found in the Mojave desert which is about 25,000 miles. It is in the USA, branching into Nevada, Arizona, and California.
The largest of the desert biomes covered 3 ½ million square miles in Africa. It is the Sahara desert. Even though all desert biomes get very little moisture, in Chile there is one called the Atacama. It only gets about ½ an inch annually in the form of precipitation that comes from the heavy fog.
Being able to survive in extremely heat and dry areas is something that is very difficult. Plants and animals living in the desert biome are highly adapted for such an environment to work for them. In addition to the days being extremely hot the nights are cool and chilly. That surprises many people as they expect it to say hot in the evening too. Yet there aren’t trees around so nothing really is able to hold that heat in and keep it warm without the sunlight.
It is hard to say just how much rainfall a given desert biome will get annually. Some of them get no rain at all for a year or two at a time. It depends on many factors including the environment, global warming, and Mother Nature.
It is a fact that desert biomes don’t get any more than 10 inches of precipitation annually. Many of them get only a fraction of that amount. In addition to the hot and dry day time conditions, it all changes at night. The cool air moves in fast as the sun is going down. There is nothing in this biome to trap heat and keep the temperatures up.
Have you ever noticed that desert biomes are very close to the mountains? This doesn’t occur by accident. Instead, it has to do with the formation of the air masses. As they move up the mountains the air gets cooler and cooler. By the time they get high up they are going to cause rain. If the temperatures are too cool it will create snow.
Yet when the air is moving quickly down the other side of the mountain, it gets hotter and hotter. By the time it reaches the desert there is no moisture left in it at all. Even in the early morning hours, the temperatures in the desert biome are going to soar. They can be in the triple digits by mid morning.
Desert Biome Facts
Flora and Fauna
We do have to give credit to the miraculous plants and animals that are able to thrive in this particular biome. For most of us, it would be impossible to do. They have learned to benefit from what their habit offers and to avoid the rest. For example they are usually going to be out at night instead of during the day. Just about all animals in the desert biome are nocturnal.
These animals also don’t need to feed very often. If they had to eat every single day it would be next to impossible for them to thrive. However, many of them only eat a tiny bit when they do find food. Others can go for several days without any food at all due to a slow metabolism. Many of them don’t need any or much water. Those that do will usually be able to get enough from the sources of food that they consume.
There are some living things in the desert biome that you will find just about anywhere. This tells just how adaptive they happen to be. One of them is the ant, and we all know how tiny they can be. They can do miraculous things, even lifting their own body weight. They stay out of the heat of the sun though because their colonies are under the ground where it is much cooler.
Shrews and mice are two types of rodents that do well in the desert biome. They eat just about anything so they can adapt to what may be readily available. They find rocks and other locations to stay cool during the day. They also make meals for various other animals living in the same environment.
You will be able to find snakes, including rattlesnakes in the desert biome. You will also find plenty of rabbits as they too seem to be a type of animal that can live just about anywhere. If you are wondering about the larger types of animals in the desert biome, they include the dingo and the puma. Sometimes bobcats are also part of this environment.
Camels are a type of desert animal we often think about. The majority of them live in the Sahara desert. They are used for travel and for work because they don’t need much water. They can also store it up in their bodies until they do need it. Don’t overlook the large and dangerous Gila Monster either. It has venom that can make humans very sick.
Plants also do very well in the desert biome. That may seem unbelievable but some of them do. One is the cactus that can do well with very little water. The body is designed for the truck to retain water that it does come into contact with. The leaves are had so that they don’t dry out in the sun. That hard texture also helps to keep them protected at night when the temperatures cool down.
Trees don’t grow in the desert biome, but in the Canary Islands you will find the Dragon Tree. It has a very long truck with leaves that spread to be widely distributed. The sap that it creates is a very dark shade of red. The aloe that we use for burn relief and in lotions comes from plants that grow in the desert biome too. They have been used for centuries for a source of natural medication.
Even though the desert biome isn’t green and lush, it is no less important to our world than any other. It is hot, it is dry, but it is a home to various animals and plants. These living things may have a hard time but they have been able to adapt. That is why helping to keep the balance here is so important. Humans can’t just come in and try to use this land for their own benefit. It would be destroying too many living things.