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...
Red Sea Nubo-Sindian tropical desert and semi-desertLast Updated on 2014-02-01 13:20:17
Located chiefly on the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East, the Red Sea Nubo-Sindian tropical desert and semi-desert ecoregion consists largely of level desert terrain, punctuated by scenic and topographically distinctive rocky landforms. There is limited biodiversity in this extreme climate, which at times receives little or no rainfall for years at a time. There have been a total of 432 vertebrate species recorded in the ecoregion. Characteristic fauna includes the Arabian White Oryx, Sand Gazelle, Sand Dune Cat and Ruppell's Fox.
Overgrazing by domestic livestock, wildlife poaching, and off-road vehicles are the chief ongoing threats to the Red Sea Nubo-Sindian tropical desert and semi-desert ecoregion.
This ecoregion consists largely of vast generally level expanses of sand, gravel or lava plains, sometimes monotonous in character and incised periodically... More »
Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian xeric shrublandsLast Updated on 2014-01-14 10:49:14Located on the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian Xeric Shrublands , and extending north to surround the Dead Sea, is a desert ecoregion, one of the most vast continuous bodies of sand on Earth. The ecoregion is classified within the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands biome. Given the aridity of this habitat, there is an impressive faunal biodiversity, with 507 vertebrate species having been recorded here.
This ecoregion holds little floral biodiversity, although a few endemic plants occur here. Many faunal species, such as the Striped Hyaena, Jackal, and Honey Badger have become extirpated in this area due to hunting, human encroachment, and habitat destruction. Certain other species have been successfully re-introduced, such as the endangered Arabian Oryx and the Sand Gazelle, and are protected at a number of reserves. Overgrazing by livestock, off-road driving,... More »
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 »
Drag and drop the content to change the order of featured content. The top nine will be displayed.