Desert ecosystems refers to the various plant and animal species that coexist in desert areas. Among them there are vital relationships that determine the conditions of their lives and ensure mutual survival.
Deserts are areas that are characterized by an arid and dry environment caused by a lack of rainfall. These characteristics prevent them from living.
There are hot deserts such as the Sahara; and cold as the high peaks of the mountains. Both types of deserts receive very little rain and are characterized by large temperature drops at night.
Because of these unique characteristics, the ecosystems that develop in these areas are quite specific. Vegetation is usually covered with earth and trees that are resistant to the difficult living conditions that surround them.
Deserts receive less than 25 centimeters of rain per year, and this value can be variable, so that sometimes it can even be lower. For example, there are areas of the Sahara desert that go years without receiving a single drop of rain.
Desert areas experience a wide range of temperatures during the day and night. The lack of vegetation and water prevents the earth from absorbing solar radiation.
For this reason, it is difficult for the Earth to keep warm during the night; this causes a sharp drop in temperature during the night hours.
The soil is very dry, usually consisting of sand; hence, it is low in organic nutrients needed by most plants. This makes it difficult for vegetation to develop and only certain species can grow in it.
Three types of desert ecosystems
1- Hot deserts
Hot deserts are located near the equator, and their height is usually close to sea level. The Sahara is the most famous example of this kind of desert.
This type of ecosystem has very hot soil, little water, and little shade. Thus, they offer conditions in which few plant species can survive.
2- Cold deserts
Cold deserts are found in high altitude places, especially in the rocky peaks of the highest mountains.
The soil of cold deserts is usually sandy or rocky, an unfavorable environment for the development of any kind of plants and animals. However, it is also possible to observe how living beings have adapted to survive.
3- Frozen deserts
Frozen deserts are another type of cold desert that is found mainly in the north and south poles of the planet, as well as in the eternal snows of mountain peaks. In these cases, the soil is not sand or rock, but entirely composed of ice.
Nature in Desert Ecosystems
Insects and arachnids
Insects are the animal species that breed most easily in the desert. Among the most common are lobsters, moths, beetles, ants and spiders.
In some desert ecosystems, cassava borers play a very important role. These insects are responsible for the pollination required for the reproduction of the cassava plant.
Desert reptiles are characterized by their ability to withstand extreme temperatures through their ability to control their body temperature. This category includes various types of snakes and lizards.
Among the snakes of the desert are the rattle, the cobra, the king snake and the goddess snake. On the other hand, among the lizards there are some species that can change color and disguise themselves, or other poisonous species, such as the frill-necked lizard and the gila monster.
Desert birds have special characteristics that allow them to survive in this harsh environment. The hazel grouse has special feathers that absorb water, which guarantees its survival and youth.
Other birds, such as the gila carpenter, make their nests inside the cactus. Thanks to the fresh and moist interior of these plants, the survival of children is guaranteed.
There are different types of mammals with a wide variety of sizes and characteristics. Most are excavators whose capacity allows them to get out of high temperatures during the day and out at night to feed.
However, there are also animals that do not dig, as is the case with kangaroos, horses and lions. The latter, for example, receive water from the blood of their victim.
There are also other animals such as foxes, rabbits, and hedgehogs that have ears that function as heat radiation from your body. For its part, the desert squirrel holds its tail above its head like an umbrella to keep it cool.
This category, of course, includes camels. Its main quality is the ability to store fat in the humps for food and the ability to survive with little water.
Desert plants produce seeds that can remain dormant for extended periods of time. Because of this, they can survive extensive droughts until rain arrives to allow a new plant to develop.
Succulent plants such as cacti have the ability to store water in their thorns. In these species, photosynthesis takes place in the stem and has folds that can expand rapidly during short periods of moisture.
Bushes have special structures that prevent water from escaping. Plants like the holly hold their leaves in such a way that the sun only touches their sides; They also have a thin salt cover that reflects the sun and prevents the sun from hitting the leaves.