Welcome to our post about Desert Biome Facts. Although they have harsh climates and would appear to have very little in the way of animal or plant life, desert biomes are fascinating places to visit in terms of landscape and the organisms they support.
Desert Biome Facts
Desert Biomes occur on either side of the Equator and account for about one fifth of the earth’s surface. These areas are classified as deserts when they receive less than 50 cm/ of rainfall in a year.
The desert biome has four sub-categories.
- Cold deserts
These type of desert can be found in Greenland, the Antarctic and the Nearctic regions.
These deserts are distinguishable by their very cold winters and high levels of snowfall and rainfall over the winter period.
- Hot and dry deserts
Examples of this desert type include the Australian, Chihuahuan, Sonoran, Mojave and Great Basin (USA), the Neotropical (South and Central America) and the Ethiopian (Africa).
These deserts are typically warm during the year and extremely hot in the summer months. Winters also tend to bring very little rainfall.
- Coastal deserts
Examples of this desert type include the Atacama Desert of Chile where they exhibit reasonably long warm summers and cool winters. They will exhibit low levels of precipitation throughout the year.
- Semi-arid deserts.
Examples of this desert type include the sagebrush of Utah, Montana and Great Basin (USA) as well as the Nearctic realm which covers Newfoundland, North America, Greenland, Europe Russia and northern Asia).
These deserts typically have reasonably long and dry summer months with low levels of precipitation over the winter periods.
All desert biomes are able to support plant and animal life in some form with organisms adapting their lives to the harsh climactic conditions.
Animals of the Desert Biome
Some animals do manage to survive in these harsh conditions, but they are faced with two main problems – how to keep cool and how to save water.
Many desert animals are small, a feature which allows then to lose heat and to also live in burrows. Some such as scorpions avoid the daytime heat by staying in their burrows or into shade during the hottest hours of the day.
The desert fox is one of several desert animals with large ears which help to radiate excess body heat. And some animals hop or scurry over the hot sands to escape its heat.
These adaptations also help the animals to hear and escape their predators. Many desert animals, including camels are able to withstand high body temperatures and lack of water without harm. Their bodies may even be able to produce water from their diet of seeds or plants, so that they do not need to drink.
Gerbils survive in this way also. Also, because they do not sweat they retain as much water as possible inside their bodies. Some water is inevitably lost with body wastes but desert animals reduce this to the minimum possible.