In ecology, desert ecology is the sum of the interactions between both biotic and abiotic processes in arid regions, and it includes the interactions of plant, animal, and bacterial populations in a desert habitat, ecosystem, and community. Some of the abiotic factors also include latitude and longitude, soil, and climate. Each of these factors have caused adaptations to the particular environment of the region. The biotic processes include animals and plants and the way they interact. Although deserts have severe climates, some plants still manage to grow. In hot deserts plants are called xerophytic meaning they are able to survive long dry periods. They may close their pores in daytime; they store water in their stems and leaves. Some of these plants include popcorn flower, barrel cactus and Saguaro cactus.
Deserts are most notable for their dry climates resulting from rain-blocking mountain ranges and remoteness from oceanic moisture. Deserts occupy one-fifth of the Earth's land surface and occur in two belts: between 15° and 35° latitude in both the southern and northern hemispheres. These bands are associated with the high solar intensities that all areas in the tropics receive, and being too far from the equator to receive rain from the Intertropical Convergence Zone.
Deserts support diverse communities of plant and animals that have evolved resistance to and methods of circumventing the extreme temperatures and arid conditions. Desert ecology is characterized by dry, alkaline soils, low net production and opportunistic feeding patterns by herbivores and carnivores. Lichens and blue-green algae are significant primary producers in the desert. The detrital food chain is less important in desert ecology than in the ecology of other regions.
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