Adaptations of Desert Animals and Plants

In this article we will discuss about the adaptations of desert animals and plants.

Adaptations of Desert Animals

High temperatures and a lack of rain are two things about the desert that affect where animals live, what they look like, and how they live. In addition to these, the “spaced distribution” of the desert’s plants also affects the animals that live there.

Insects, small rodents, and reptiles are some of the animals that live in the desert. Birds and mammals are pretty rare or don’t live there at all. Animals that can match their body temperature to the temperature outside are well-suited to living in the desert.

Desert insects and reptiles have tough skin and get rid of nitrogen in the form of uric acid. The internally invaginated spiracle system in desert insects keeps evaporation from the surface of their lungs to a minimum. Desert rodents can get their food from dry seeds, succulent cacti, and other plants that store water and don’t need water to live. They stay in their burrows during the day to avoid water loss from evaporation and to save water by making urine that is very concentrated and not using water to control their body temperature. Many desert animals that don’t have a body temperature need to hibernate.

adaptations of desert animals and plants

Figure 1: Adaptations of Desert Animals

Desert snakes and lizards spend 0.5 m or more of the year sleeping in the sand, under rocks, or in other animals’ burrows. Some ants and crickets dig very deep holes. The kangaroo rat makes burrows that go 50–65 cm below the surface. An important adaptation is the way they protect their eyes, ears, and noses from the sand. In Typhlops, a snake that digs holes, tiny shields cover the eyes. Long eyelashes protect the camel’s eyes, which are kept high off the ground by its long neck. Desert animals also have hair or scales that keep water out of their ears.

Desert animals are also able to survive because they have poison glands. Protecting against natural enemies is done by being a certain colour or having a covering of spines. Most of the time, their colour matches their surroundings. The so-called “homed lizard” (Phrynosoma) of the deserts of western North America and the “spiny devil” (Moloch horridus) of Australia are both classic examples of animals that live in deserts and have a spiney covering.

The ways that desert animals have changed their bodies are just as interesting. Some of them, like the desert lizard Sauromalus obesus, have a way to cool the blood going to their brains only. Some African gazelles and ungulates get cool blood to their brains. Some desert reptiles speed up their breathing when it’s hot and breathe with their mouths open, which looks like they’re panting.

Other lizards cool down by smearing saliva from their mouths back over their throats. In the desert, a camel (Camelus dromedarius) has several ways to keep from getting too hot. First, the heat is stored when the body’s temperature goes up.

If a camel doesn’t get any water, its body temperature may be about 34°C in the morning and rise to 41°C in the late afternoon. This 7°C rise in body temperature is equal to about 29,000 kcal of heat, which means that 5 litres of water are saved. When the body temperature goes up, the heat flow from the environment goes down. The fur also makes it harder for the animal to gain heat from the environment.

Adaptations of Desert Plants

In an extreme desert, there are no plants and it never rains. Some deserts, on the other hand, get less than 5 cm of rain a year. Deserts are made up of arid regions, which have a lot of plants called xerophytes. These plants include desert bushes and shrubs, succulents like cacti that store water, and other small plants that only grow when there is enough water. In some deserts, plants can live for years as seeds until a little rain makes the conditions right for them to grow and bloom.

Figure 1: Adaptations of Desert Plants

Desert plants that die quickly can finish their whole life cycle in just a few weeks. Desert geophytes live as underground bulbs or corns to stay alive during dry times. Cacti (Opuntia) and Euphorbia are two examples of succulents that can live above ground for the whole year.

They have thick cuticles, a low ratio of surface area to volume, and stomata that are pushed down. Their stomata open at night so that they can lose less water when they breathe. In succulents, the stem is flattened and takes on the role of a leaf. The leaves of Opuntia have turned into spines.

By preventing water loss through cuticular transpiration, waxy material covers the epidermal surface of the stem. Some plants in the desert, like Aloe and Agave, have thick, leathery or succulent leaves. Desert plants are also safe from being eaten by animals because they don’t have broad leaves and have a lot of spines. The roots of xerophytes that live for a long time are very deep. Most of the time, the stem is covered with layers of cork, which keep water from escaping. Many of these plants, like Acacia, make gums and resins. They also help form layers that keep water from escaping.