Desert Ecosystems Defined

The desert is a place where there is minimum water; they receive only 25 cms of rain in a year. The ecosystems that are found in the desert are called the desert ecosystems. They consist of plants and animals that live in the very oppressive environment. The sunlight is too much and here the plants are adapted to lessen the effects of heat from the scorching Sun. The plant growth is stunted and vegetation happens in only the short span of time when it rains and there is moisture still in the atmosphere. The plants grow all of a sudden and flowering happens like carpets across the desert overnight, germination occurs and the species are renewing all in a very short time.

Desert ecosystemsThe animals that find habitat here live on eating plants even though it is very difficult to eat parts of the plant because of large spines and thorns. Resident insects are another variety which can be taken up as food.

Desert ecosystems can be divided into two parts

Hot deserts where there is lot of heat from the sun and the Cold deserts which are covered with snow. Cold deserts are also referred to as Tundra regions.

The sand covers about 20% of the Earth’s deserts and the Oases are the vegetated areas that are moistened by springs and other means of irrigation. These support the crops and the permanent habitation in these areas. The plants that are found in the deserts are drought or salt resistant and are also called as xerophytes. Some of the plants have the capability of storing water in their roots, stems and leaves.

The plants have long taproots that go down deep into the ground so as to penetrate the water table there. The desert ecosystems are famous for plants that have small spiny leaves which are not capable of shedding moisture. Even the fungi and other microorganisms found in the deserts have the capability of preserving water.

There are very diverse types of plants found in the desert ecosystems. The trees found here have very slow growth but they have a life for more than 200 years. Cacti are very famous in the deserts.

The fauna found in the deserts consist of animals that remain hidden during the daytime so that their body temperature does not rise and water loss from their body is minimal. The Kangaroo Rat and lizards are famous in deserts. Those animals that can live in the deserts are called Xerocoles.

The desert ecosystems can be used as the source of solar energy. Humans cannot sustain in the deserts with ease. The high temperature in the deserts causes excessive sweating which leads into large loss of water from the body resulting in dehydration and in very bad conditions may even lead to heat stroke.

Humans live near Oases because they have the flow of water and even plants that can keep away the direct sun rays. Wells found in these areas are helpful for the humans as they have some grazing grounds for their livestock.