Desert biomes cover about one fifth of the Earth's surface and are defined to occur where rainfall is less than 50 centimeters per year. Although most deserts, such as the Sahara of North Africa and the deserts of the southwestern USA, Mexico, and Australia, occur at low latitudes, another kind of desert, cold deserts, occur in the basin and range area of Utah and Nevada and in parts of western Asia. Most deserts have a considerable amount of specialized vegetation, as well as specialized vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Soils often have abundant nutrients because they need only water to become very productive and have little or no organic matter. Disturbances are common in the form of occasional fires or cold weather, and sudden, infrequent, but intense rains that cause flooding.
The Mojave Desert is the smallest of the four North American deserts. While the Mojave lies between the Great Basin Shrub Steppe and the Sonoran Desert, its fauna is more closely...
Chihuahuan DesertLast Updated on 2013-12-06 23:07:07The Chihuahuan Desert encompasses one of the most biologically diverse arid regions on Earth. This ecoregion extends from within the United States south into Mexico. This desert is unique, as it has been sheltered from the influence of other arid regions such as the Sonoran Desert by the large mountain ranges of the Sierra Madres. This isolation has allowed the evolution of many endemic species; most notable is the high number of endemic plants; in fact, there are a total of 653 vertebrate taxa recorded in the Chihuahuan Desert. Moreover, this ecoregion also sustains some of the last extant populations of Mexican Prairie Dog, wild American Bison and Pronghorn Antelope.
Severe conservation pressures are on the Chihuahuan Desert. On the Mexico side, there are destructive activities from illegal poaching, habitat destruction from illegal drug trafficking and large scale movements of... More »
Sonoran DesertLast Updated on 2013-12-06 15:53:38The Sonoran Desert covers approximately 200,000 square miles (520,000 square kilometers), including about 100,000 square miles of land, and often defined to also cover around 100,000 square miles of sea; moreover, the Sonoran comprises much of the state of Sonora, Mexico, most of the southern half of the USA states of Arizona, southeastern California, most of the Baja California peninsula, and the numerous islands of the Gulf of California. Its southern third straddles 30° north latitude and is a horse latitudeA horse latitude is a subtropical latitude between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south. desert; the rest is rainshadow desert. It is lush in comparison to most other deserts. There is a moderate diversity of faunal organisms present, with 550 distinct vertebrate species having been recorded here.
The Sonoran Desert can be divided into seven subdivisions based on... More »
Gulf of California xeric scrubLast Updated on 2013-12-04 16:26:07
The Gulf of California xeric scrub ecoregion is situated along the eastern coastal zone and Gulf of California versanta region of land sloping in one general direction of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, and is delineated by the spine of the La Giganta Sierra Mountains. This ecoregion, located entirely within the nation of Mexico, is classified within the Deserts and Xeric Scrublands biome. Species richness of plants is high in the ecoregion, but modest for fauna; however, endemism is high in this arid habitat, which receives some of the lowest precipitation in all of Mexico.
There are a total of 341 vertebrate species present in the ecoregion. Twenty genera of plants, nine species of the herpetofauna, twelve species of mammal, and two species of avifauna are endemic to this region. Reptilian endemism is particularly notable, with some lizard taxa of highly restricted occurrence... More »
Baja California DesertLast Updated on 2013-11-29 12:57:36
The Baja California Desert ecoregion, located on most of the western side of the Baja Peninsula, contains varied habitats such as mountains, plains and coastal dunes. This desert is one of the largest and best preserved in Mexico, and due to its isolation, contains a high level of species richness and endemism. The largest protected area in Mexico is located within this ecoregion, providing habitat for a number of endemic species such as the San Quintín Kangaroo Rat, Baja California Rock Squirrel, as well as a plethora of spider, scorpion and bee species. Unfortunately, intensive cattle ranging and unregulated hunting have taken its toll on much of the original natural environment.
The Baja California Desert ecoregion occurs on the western portion of the Baja California peninsula, and occupies most of the Mexican states of Baja California Sur and Baja California... More »
Sonoran desertLast Updated on 2013-11-07 20:35:35The contents of this page have been subsumed into the more comprehensive article: Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert exhibits the greatest diversity of plant species of any desert worldwide. This unique ecoregion constitutes a large area located in the southwestern USA and northern Mexico. With such a harsh climate, there are a surprising number of mammal, reptile and bird taxa, as well as a number of amphibian species, including the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum). Cattle overgrazing and urban development are the chief ecological threats to the Sonoran Desert.
The Sonoran Desert in the USA reaches from extreme southeastern California across the western two-thirds of southern Arizona. In Mexico, the desert stretches south to encompass much of the state of Sonora, as well as the eastern shore of Baja California to the town of Loreto. The Colorado River passes through this... More »
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