By Shahidan Nur Saidy
Map of Tropical Deserts around the world
Tropical deserts are known to be one of the hottest and driest places on Earth and make up about 12% of Earth's total land surface. Most of these deserts are found away from bodies of water and are located inland. Tropical deserts are generally situated approximately 30° North and South of the equator. The deserts tend to be around 37.8°C during the day and 0°C at night. Rain fall occurs irregularly and cannot be accurately determined. It is estimated that around 25 cm of rain falls per year. The Sahara desert which is located in North Africa is one of the most well-known and largest tropical desert there is. Tropical deserts vary in terrain; some deserts can be rocky, sandy or immersed in pebbles. Did you know that daylight occurs for only 5-9 hours in these deserts?
Tropical Desert Animal Species
Cooper's Hawk (Carnivore):
-Located from south Canada to northern Mexico
- Medium-sized hawk
-Consumes lizards and snakes
Fennec Fox (Carnivore):
-Smallest member of the Canid family
-Found in Sahara Desert
-Large Ears to scatter body heat
-Diet consists of lizards, birds and bird eggs
Kangaroo Rat (Herbivore):
-Big eyes, large hind feet and long tail
-live in various desert niches
-diet composed of desert grasses
Jack Rabbit (Herbivore):
-Found in desert-shrub areas
-Hides in shrubs for cover
-Similar size and form to regular rabbits
-wolf-like appearance, however smaller than actual wolves
-Found in North America (Alaska to New England) to South Mexico
-Omnivores (eat anything they can scavenge such as plants,
Insects, snakes or bigger animals)
-Largest bird species in the genus Corvus
-Found in forest, tundra and desert biomes.
-diet consists of small mammals, fruits, nuts and seeds
Tropical Desert Plant Species
- Typically spherical, many ribs and spines
- 3 ft-10 ft
- Flowers can appear on top
- Very dangerous to organisms -one puncture can take several
months to heal (even with antibiotics)
- known for brittleness of the stems
- 30-150cm tall
- deep roots to absorb as much water
- barbs which make removal painful
-useful to other organisms because their
fruits contain water
Tropical Desert Relationships
- Parasitism- Flea on coyote (flea is benefiting from drinking coyote’s blood whereas coyote is losing blood).
- Mutualism- Phainopepla eats mistletoe berries and mistletoe benefits as their seed is carried out to different places in the feces therefore aids the survival of plant.
- Commensalism- Mojave fringed-toe lizard lives in an abandoned rat hole (lizard has shelter whereas rat has moved on).
A major Impact caused by humans towards Tropical Deserts, is their use of off road vehicles. Off road vehicles are prone to leave scars within the soil.This may not seem much, however it can ruin an entire ecosystem. Scars left in the soil makes the land infertile. These scars can stop vegetation from growing for decades. It can ruin ecosystems, as herbivores need to consume the plants which is otherwise lost due to off roading.This factor can lead to the decline of the herbivores population, which in turn decrease the carnivore's population as they eat the herbivores.
Another factor which can harm tropical deserts is global warming. To begin with, Tropical deserts do not have a lot of precipitation, so water is seldom found. Firstly, Global warming increases the chance of drought in the area. It can dry up water holes which are found around the desert. Secondly, it contributes to the expansion of semi arid areas and deserts, due to the Hadley Cell pattern.
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