What Is the Desert Ecosystem Like?

desert-ecosystem-like Credit: Auscape/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

There are two types of deserts: temperate, or cold, and subtropical, or hot, which gives deserts more than one type of ecosystem. There are similarities as both get less than 10 inches of rain a year, and the air is generally dry in both types of biomes. The lack of water in either type of desert makes them harsh for people or creatures living there.

The differences in the two types of deserts are as numerous as the similarities. The temperate deserts, like Antarctica, are cold. The temperatures in these areas can become cold enough to kill a person. Animals that live in these deserts have physically adapted through the years to be able to survive the cold by having extra layers of fat, or needing less energy and food to survive. The animals that live in the subtropical deserts have the opposite adaptations. Those animals have adapted to handle higher heats and strong sun.

The plants and animals in both animals have to adapt to survive on less water than those that live in other biomes. Many of the animals that live in the subtropical deserts have also adapted to become nocturnal so that they can avoid the higher heats of the day. This also means that these nocturnal animals have to adapt to the cooler night time temperatures of the desert.