The desert biome is found to cover around one fifth of the entire Earth. There are different types of deserts such as cold deserts, coastal deserts and hot deserts but what makes a desert, really a desert is how dry that it is.
Where are Desert Biomes Found?
Desert biomes are found all around the world. There are deserts that are in Africa, in Antarctica, in the United States, Ethiopia, Asia and more!
One of the largest deserts is the Sahara Desert and it is located in Africa. It is over 3 million square miles long.
The Gobi and Arabian Desert are also some other major deserts around the world.
What are the Characteristics of a Desert Biome?
When something is called a desert, that means that it is very dry. A desert does not get more than 10 inches of rain per year and so they have dry soil and hardly no water. Since the weather is so hot or cold, when it rains, sometimes the rain even evaporates and never makes it to the ground.
Deserts are most of the time very hot during the day. Because there are not many trees or good soil, there is no protection from the heat and when the sun comes, it can get over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
When it gets dark, the desert can get very cold, very quickly and can get down even below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coastal deserts are known to have cold winters and warm summers but the weather in a coastal desert usually only gets to around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In a coastal desert, they get around 5 inches of rain per year.
Cold deserts are found in places such as Antarctica and they are deserts because they are dry, and they do not have a lot of trees and vegetation that grow on them.
Cold deserts usually have only short summers that are warm, and their winters are longer and colder. The temperature during the winter in a cold desert can even get as low as -110 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Plants Grow in the Desert Biome?
Like all other biomes, the plants and animals have to learn to adapt to the weather. To adapt means that their bodies learn to adjust. The plants that grow in the desert have to learn to adjust to an environment that is very dry.
A lot of the plants in the desert have seeds and the seeds can stay in the sand for a long time and not grow until there is enough rain to help them to grow.
Cactus plants are found in a lot of deserts because they are covered by a special wax that allows them to hold water for a longer period of time. These plants have short roots that spread wide throughout the ground so that they can catch rain when it hits the ground immediately and store it.
Cactus also have spikes on their leaves so that animals cannot eat them, so they are protected from predators.
Other plants, such as the black sage and the salt bush, have very thick leaves so that they can store more water and live in the dry weather of the desert.
Some plants such as grasses and algae can live in the cold deserts, but they normally only grow in the summer and then they are able to survive through the cold nights and the winter months.
What Animals Live in the Desert Biome?
There are many animals that live in the desert. Many of these desert animals are cold blooded, which means that their bodies can adapt to the change in the temperature. These animals must learn to live with very little water. The camel for example, stores fat in its hump so that it does not get dehydrated or hungry.
Some of the animals that live in the desert are snakes, lizards, spiders, insects, kangaroo rats, hawks, coyotes, gazelles, geckos, and more. These animals can survive in the desert and many of them build their homes in the cactus spines so that they are protected from other animals.
In the cold deserts, you might see animals such as penguins, seals, fish and birds. Most of these animals are found near the shores of the cold desert.
More Facts About the Desert Biome:
- The wind turns pebbles into sand and dust.
- The desert is the home of many dust storms.
- One of the largest cacti found in the desert is the giant saguaro cactus, it can get over 50 feet tall.
- The plants that store water in their stems are called succulents.
- When a tree grows in the desert, it oftentimes has a long taproot that can grow deep into the ground so that it can find water.
- A camel can go for over a week without drinking water.
- A camel can drink 30 gallons of water in just a few minutes.
What Did You Learn?
- What are the different types of deserts? There are cold, hot, and coastal deserts.
- Do deserts only grow in certain countries? There are deserts that are located all over the world. Deserts make up around one-fifth of all of the areas of the Earth.
- What does adapt mean? Adapt means that a plant or animal gets used to certain things. In the desert, plants and animals have to adapt because the desert is so dry.
- What makes a desert a desert? The biggest thing that makes a desert is how dry that it is. Even though the desert has extreme temperatures, the dryness is what really classifies the desert biome.
- How do desert plants survive? Desert plants survive because they have shallow roots and they hold water in their thick leaves so that they can store it until more rain comes.
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