Importance of Desert ecosystems

Approximately one third of the land surface of the Earth is desert, and such environments are typically either termed “hot” or “cold” and are found on all continents. Due to the unique environment of deserts, the biological organisms which exist there often have unusual characteristics, when compared with organisms in temperate and tropical environments. Often in deserts, crusts composed of cyanobacteria are some of the first organisms to produce a stable surface which allow plants to colonise and grow in these areas by producing “soils”. Plants which are found in these environments naturally require methods to prevent water loss. In desert environments, all kind of animal species are present, ranging from insects and invertebrates through to reptiles, snakes and mammals. The fact that such a large collection of biologically distinct animals and plants exists in an environment that covers such a large proportion of the planet warrants their study and understanding. Furthermore, with climate change, the area of the land surface of the Earth which is desert is likely to increase with the consequence that human interaction with deserts is likely to increase.