Desert Habitat: Know More About Desert Plants And Animals

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Facts about desert habitat will tell you more about the food products that can grow in the warm soil.

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Deserts are no place for fun as most deserts are either very cold or too hot.

In the majority of the desert regions, the population is very thin. The plants and animals of these regions are built such that they are able to conserve water.

This happens primarily because desert habitats do not receive much rain and the availability of water is scarce. It is due to the lack of proper rains that not many crops can grow in the deserts. The most commonly known and identified arid and semi-arid regions of the world include the Thar Desert (India and Pakistan), Mojave desert located in the United States, and Sahara and Kalahari (Africa) to name a few.

Most desert plants store water as that is the only way of survival in hot and dry deserts. Deserts are habitats as well as secure ecosystems as the various living organisms depend on each other for survival. Different types of deserts exist on Earth. These are hot and dry deserts, cold desserts, arid and semi-arid deserts, and coastal deserts. Coastal deserts are the deserts that are formed along the sea or ocean coasts.

Read on to know more about the desert habitat during the winter and summer. Afterward, also check animals that came back from extinction and Spanish moss facts.

Desert Habitat Meaning With Example

Habitat is nothing but a combination of biotic and abiotic factors present in a particular region. Desert habitats include hot and dry deserts as well as cold deserts like Antarctica which remain in snow throughout the year.

A habitat is seen as the natural home for the local plants and animals. Not all plants and animals can survive and thrive in a desert habitat.

The desert landscapes most prominent known in the world include the Sahara desert, the Mojave desert(largest in North America), Sonoran desert (largest desert in Mexico, Southern America), great Victoria desert (largest desert in the continent of Australia, covering more than half of Australia) and the Atacama desert among various others.

The temperature in desert areas can be very high. The highest recorded average temperature was around 133.8 F (56.6 C) during the day. The fluctuation of temperatures in deserts is such that the night temperature can fall up to 50 F (10 C), sometimes even going into minus. However, this is not to say that life does not exist here.

There are several species of plants and animals that have adapted themselves to survive well in this less-water region. Life becomes difficult as the desert landscape becomes devoid of desert animals and desert plants due to absolutely no sign of rainfall for long periods of time. These dry deserts of South America, India, and others on Earth provide a life of struggle without much rewards in return.

Desert Habitat Features

The word desert was derived long ago from a Latin word meaning, ‘abandoned’. Most deserts are characterized by a lack of water and moisture. They need not always be sandy or have high temperatures.

There are cold deserts also present on Earth such as the Antarctic region. It fulfilled the characteristic feature of an area with a dearth of water and rain.

Due to the fluctuating temperatures, these regions are mostly arid and semi-arid. Deserts are seen as a great source of attraction in terms of tourism and few deserts that have great oil reserves attract people for their wealth. Over the years these deserts have grown mostly due to the overuse or misuse of the environment by humans.

The study of deserts has gained importance to understand the causes behind such occurrences and stop further spreading of deserts. Deserts have low levels of humidity during the daytime and comparatively high levels at night. The main feature of any desert is of course the limited or negligible amount of rainfall present in these regions throughout the year. Since there are not many tall trees, crops, and plants along with the deserts, the wind velocity in these hot dry deserts is high.

The main reason behind the lack of cloud formation in deserts is the absence of water vapor present in the air. The solar radiation in these locations is also very intense, with the potential evaporation being at its highest. The soil is mostly loose and contains very little or no moisture, nitrogen, or even organic carbon. The time period for the growth of a few select crops is very short.

In hot deserts, traces of water are like searching for a needle in the haystack while in the cold deserts, all traces of water are frozen and therefore not easily available for drinking unless individuals have the right tools to convert that ice into water. The cold winters in these deserts make it hard to store water. Whatever little water is it is used judiciously. Most people converse water until it is absolutely necessary to use it.

Desert Habitat Animals And Their Adaptations

It is difficult to survive in the dry conditions of the desert. Since the food available, the plants are very few throughout the year, most animals learn to survive on the bare minimum. Some animals might even migrate if the periods of no rain continue for over a year as there is nothing left for them to survive on.

There are specific adaptations that desert habitat animals develop which allow them to live with little water and food. Camels for instance have a hump to store water which enables them to survive days and walk for miles at a stretch without getting dehydrated due to water loss. Their long thick eyelashes protect their eyes from the continuous flying loose sand. They have naturally wide feet to assist them in maintaining their balance and not sink in the sand, they can camouflage well and their thick skin protects them from the cold nights.

Kangaroo rats are another magnificent species that can survive in such tough conditions. Kangaroo rats are mostly found in the deserts of North America. Kangaroo rats hope just like kangaroos and require almost no water to stay alive and well. They have the ability to live for around a year solely by consuming dry seeds. They are abated to carry our metabolic oxidation from the seeds that they eat in order to cover their water requirements.

Both of these animals can maintain their body temperatures to conserve water and not experience any water loss through sweating in the heat. These animals are the true survivors of desert locations. Apart from this, there are several varieties of insects also that live in the area. These insects have thick shells and tend to bury themselves inside the cold layer of the sand when the sun is shining bright.

Semiarid deserts have the lowest amount of rains during the winter months.

Desert Habitat Plants And Their Adaptations

Just like the animals here have adapted to meet the requirements of the environment, there are certain plants as well which have gained the ability to survive in this hot climate and conserve water.

Deserts cover a large area and the entire area that deserts cover has cactus growing in different spots. The long periods of hot and dry seasons with no trace of rain have ensured that these plants are able to survive in the most difficult regions. Cacti, however, have been found to grow majorly in hot and dry deserts. There have been almost negligible instances of vegetation in the cold deserts. These plants survive with long periods of no rain. In the summers the heat is extreme.

Cacti have spines, shallow roots, and big thick leaf-like structures. There are several varieties of cactus that grow in deserts. Although most of them have thick fleshy leaf-like structures, some even have small leaves. A cactus with small leaves can survive as well as the other cacti. The warm climate of the desert in Africa enables certain species of shrubs to grow in some months of the year. Life in these regions of the Earth is very difficult. Earth does not receive any rainfall in many of its regions, most of which have been abandoned by people.

The leaves of the trees and shrubs present here shrink and swell at different points of time to indicate the amount of moisture or water left within them. One way of conserving deserts and the land areas from further becoming deserts is to conserve water. It is equally important to ensure crop rotation and make sure that the lands are well taken care of. Do not overuse the resources provided to humans to ensure longer usage. Humans are harming deserts by overgrazing their cattle and firewood gathering, leading to desertification.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for desert habitat: know more about desert plants and animals then why not take a look at how do water slides work? science facts for curious kids, or how do cacti get water? know how your cactus plants survive?


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Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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