Have seasons, which are typically July through September.

Have you ever found yourself in a hot, dry, desert landscape? If so, you might have been in a subtropical desert. In this lesson you will explore the climate and biome characteristics that make subtropical deserts unique and able to sustain life.

Definition

Have you ever traveled to a place where the ground was warm, the air was hot and it barely rained? Was the vegetation there short and was there no shade? If so, you were in a subtropical desert. A subtropical desert is a type of ecosystem, or biome that is characterized by high temperatures, very low precipitation and warm soils. Examples of these types of deserts are the Mojave, Sonoran, Chihuahuan, Sahara and the Great Victoria Deserts.

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Climate

The climate of a subtropical desert is hot and dry. These regions are usually located right above the equator. Typically, the temperature averages around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but can reach 90 degrees in the summer. These deserts can also freeze during colder months or at night.

They typically get less than eight inches of water a year, and the precipitation comes in the form of rain during the monsoon seasons, which are typically July through September. These deserts are usually found between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

Plant Species

The subtropical desert biome is home to a variety of plants capable of living in hot, dry climates. Many grasses, shrubs, succulents and low-growing plants live in subtropical deserts. These plants have evolved to live in this adverse climate.

They store water and live in low fertility soils. In some cases, these plants can look wilted and incapable of growth, but they perk back up when water is available after an intense rainfall event.

Animals Species

Animals that live in subtropical deserts are typically nocturnal. That means they spend their waking hours at night.

This keeps them from becoming overheated when looking for food and water, since it is cooler at night. There are many lizards, rodents, foxes and birds that live in the desert. Some reptiles, like the tortoise, also survive in subtropical deserts. A prime example of a subtropical desert animal is the camel.

They are great at storing water, though not in their humps as commonly believed, and even have thick eyelashes to protect them from sand storms.

Lesson Summary

A subtropical desert is a type of ecosystem, or biome, that is characterized by high temperatures, very low precipitation and warm soils. Plant species such as grass, shrubs and succulents can be found there. Many animals, such as camels, tortoises, birds, foxes, rodents and lizards, also live in subtropical deserts.

A prime example of a subtropical desert is the Grand Canyon region, the Mojave Desert or Sonoran Desert.

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