Desert Ecosystems

A desert is an ecosystem that is very dry and that gets hardly any rain. During the days, the desert can be extremely hot, and the nights can be very cool or even cold.

The temperatures of a desert can range from 28-120 degrees and a desert is the driest biome of all of the different biomes.

What is a Desert Like?

People watch movies and they see a desert and all they see is dry, sandy areas, but this is not a realistic view of what a desert is.

A desert biome is actually very full of life with animals, plants, rocks, and more.

The amount of rain that a desert has is around 30 centimeters of rain per year so plants that grow in the desert are actually oftentimes called desert plants.

There are four characteristics that make a desert a desert.

That is that the area has very little vegetation life, that there is a wide range of temperatures from cold to hot, that there are less than 3o centimeters of rain each year, and that it is very rocky or sandy.

Plants of the Desert

Desert plants vary from shrubs and bushes to Orchids, different types of cacti, and plants that do not need a lot of nutrients or water.

The cactus, for example, is built to hold water while in the desert. The spines on the cactus help to keep water from leaving the plant and protects the plant from animals that are looking for food.

There are thousands of different types of cacti that are found in the desert.

Another plant called the Yucca plant provides fruit for small animals and protection from the hot sun.

Another important plant or tree-like plant is called the Dragons Blood. This tree is known to grow in the desert because it needs very little water to survive.

The Dragons Blood has a very thick covering over the trunk so that it does not lose water when the sun is hot.

The Dragons Blood also has extremely deep roots so that it can find water and survive in the desert conditions.

Animals of the Desert

There are many animals that have adapted to desert life. During the night, many animals come out to roam and to gather food.

During the hot times of the day, there are different animals such as snakes and lizards that enjoy warming themselves on a rock or in the desert sand.

Other animals such as the bobcat, or the meerkat learn to dig in the sand in order to get away from the heat.

Many animals burrow because it is much cooler in the sand than on top of the sand.

The camel is another desert animal. The camel has humps that store fat and water so that the camel will not get dehydrated or run out of energy.

The camel also has special eyelids and eyelashes that help to keep sand out of their eyes.

The desert fox, wild dog, and the wild donkey also are found in the desert.

They have learned to survive, to store water, and to go long periods of time without having to have water.

People of the Desert

There are over 300 million people that live in the desert.

These people have learned to adapt to the desert. There is something that is called Natural Selection.

Natural selection is when a person, animal, plant, or other organism passes down traits that will help them to survive the environment.

These adaptations happen with people, plants, and animals in the desert.

For example, cactus makes spines for protection, they form a waxy covering to keep water in and they have long and deep roots so that they can find water to survive. All of these adaptations help organisms to survive.

Facts About the Desert Ecosystems

  • The Dragons Blood tree is called the Dragon Blood because the sap that it makes looks like blood.
  • Plants survive by storing their own water and making their own food.
  • A biome is an ecosystem with different climates and organisms.
  • Adaptation means that something is able to change to survive in their environment.
  • Animals that live in the desert generally have long ears and do not sweat because they learned to adapt to keep water inside of their bodies.
  • Animals adapt to their biomes by learning to burrow, storing food for later use, hibernating when it is too hot or cold and by hunting at night when it is cooler.

What Did You Learn?

What is a desert?

A desert is a biome that gets very little water and is usually cool at night and hot in the day.

What is adaptation?

Adaptation is when an organism, such as a person, plant or animal, learns different ways to survive in their environment.

What is special about a camel? A camel is a desert animal that has features to keep it safe when it is in hot and sandy areas.

Why is it important for animals to adapt to their environment?

Animals learn to adapt to their environment so they can live. If animals did not learn to survive, they would die out and they would not exist anymore.

Are there plants, people and animals in the desert?

Yes, unlike the movies show, deserts are not just sand and heat. Deserts are full of life from plants, animals and even people.

Back to – Biology