Deserts and xeric shrublands

Deserts and xeric shrublands

Deserts and xeric shrublands is a biome characterized by, relating to, or requiring only a small amount of moisture.[1]


Definition and occurrence

Deserts and xeric shrublands receive an annual average rainfall of ten inches or less, and have an arid or hyperarid climate, characterized by a strong moisture deficit, where annual potential loss of moisture from evapotranspiration well exceeds the moisture received as rainfall. Deserts and xeric shrublands occur in tropical, subtropical, and temperate climate regions. Desert soils tend to be sandy or rocky, and low in organic materials. Saline or alkaline soils are common. Plants and animals in deserts and xeric shrublands are adapted to low moisture conditions. Hyperarid regions are mostly devoid of vegetation and animal life, and include rocky deserts and sand dunes. Vegetation in arid climate regions can include sparse grasslands, shrublands, and woodlands. Plants adapted to arid climates are called xerophytes, and include succulent plants, geophytes, sclerophyll, and annual plants. Animals, including insects, reptiles, arachnids, birds and mammals, are frequently nocturnal to avoid moisture loss.

In isolation, Hawai'i's Silverswords have adapted to xeric microclimates within volcanic craters, trapping and channeling dew and protecting leaves with reflective hairs.


The conversion of productive drylands to desert conditions is known as desertification, and can occur from a variety of causes. One factor is human intervention in imposing intensive agricultural tillage or overgrazing[2] in areas which cannot support such exploitation. Climatic shifts such as global warming or the Milankovitch cycle (which drives glacials and interglacials) also affect the pattern of deserts on Earth.

See also

Desert and xeric shrublands ecoregions

Afrotropic Deserts and xeric shrublandsv · Aldabra Island xeric scrub
Arabian Peninsula coastal fog desert Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
East Saharan montane xeric woodlands Chad, Sudan
Eritrean coastal desert Djibouti, Eritrea
Ethiopian xeric grasslands and shrublands Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan
Gulf of Oman desert and semi-desert Oman, United Arab Emirates
Hobyo grasslands and shrublands Somalia
Ile Europa and Bassas da India xeric scrub Bassas da India, Europa
Kalahari xeric savanna Botswana, Namibia, South Africa
Kaokoveld desert Angola, Namibia
Madagascar spiny thickets Madagascar
Madagascar succulent woodlands Madagascar
Masai xeric grasslands and shrublands Ethiopia, Kenya
Nama Karoo Namibia, South Africa
Namib desert Namibia
Namibian savanna woodlands Namibia
Red Sea coastal desert Egypt, Sudan
Socotra Island xeric shrublands Yemen
Somali montane xeric woodlands Somalia
Southwestern Arabian foothills savanna Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
Southwestern Arabian montane woodlands Saudi Arabia, Yemen
Succulent Karoo South Africa
Australasia Deserts and xeric shrublandsv · d · e
Carnarvon xeric shrublands Australia
Central Ranges xeric scrub Australia
Gibson Desert Australia
Great Sandy-Tanami Desert Australia
Great Victoria Desert Australia
Nullarbor Plain xeric shrublands Australia
Pilbara shrublands Australia
Simpson Desert Australia
Tirari-Sturt's Stony Desert Australia
Western Australian mulga shrublands Australia
Indomalaya Deserts and xeric shrublandsv · Deccan thorn scrub forests
India, Sri Lanka
Indus Valley desert India, Pakistan
Northwestern thorn scrub forests India, Pakistan
Thar desert India, Pakistan
Nearctic Deserts and xeric shrublandsv · Baja California desert
Central Mexican matorral Mexico
Chihuahuan desert Mexico, United States
Colorado Plateau shrublands United States
Great Basin shrub steppe United States
Gulf of California xeric scrub Mexico
Meseta Central matorral Mexico
Mojave desert United States
Okanagan (South) shrub steppe Canada
Snake-Columbia shrub steppe United States
Sonoran desert Mexico, United States
Tamaulipan matorral Mexico
Tamaulipan mezquital Mexico
Wyoming Basin shrub steppe United States
Neotropic Deserts and xeric shrublandsv · Araya and Paria xeric scrub
Aruba-Curaçao-Bonaire cactus scrub Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao
Atacama desert Chile, Peru
Caatinga Brazil
Cayman Islands xeric scrub Cayman Islands
Cuban cactus scrub Cuba
Galápagos Islands xeric scrub Ecuador
Guajira-Barranquilla xeric scrub Colombia, Venezuela
La Costa xeric shrublands Venezuela
Leeward Islands xeric scrub Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy, Saba, US Virgin Islands
Malpelo Island xeric scrub Colombia
Motagua Valley thornscrub Guatemala
Paraguana xeric scrub Venezuela
San Lucan xeric scrub Mexico
Sechura desert Peru
Tehuacán Valley matorral Mexico
Windward Islands xeric scrub Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Peter and Saint Paul rocks Brazil
  • this is because it gets only ten inches of precipitation a year
Palearctic Deserts and xeric shrublandsv · Afghan Mountains semi-desert
Alashan Plateau semi-desert China, Mongolia
Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian xeric shrublands Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Atlantic coastal desert Mauritania, Western Sahara
Azerbaijan shrub desert and steppe Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran
Badkhiz-Karabil semi-desert Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Baluchistan xeric woodlands Afghanistan, Pakistan
Caspian lowland desert Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan
Central Afghan Mountains xeric woodlands Afghanistan
Central Asian northern desert Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan
Central Asian riparian woodlands Kazakhstan
Central Asian southern desert Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Central Persian desert basins Afghanistan, Iran
Eastern Gobi desert steppe China, Mongolia
Gobi Lakes Valley desert steppe Mongolia
Great Lakes Basin desert steppe Mongolia, Russia
Junggar Basin semi-desert China, Mongolia
Kazakh semi-desert Kazakhstan
Kopet Dag semi-desert Iran, Turkmenistan
Mesopotamian shrub desert Iraq, Jordan, Syria
North Saharan steppe and woodlands Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Western Sahara
Paropamisus xeric woodlands Afghanistan
Persian Gulf desert and semi-desert Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Qaidam Basin semi-desert China
Red Sea Nubo-Sindian tropical desert and semi-desert Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
Rigestan-North Pakistan sandy desert Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan
Sahara desert Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan
South Iran Nubo-Sindian desert and semi-desert Iran, Iraq, Pakistan
South Saharan steppe and woodlands Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan
Taklimakan desert China
Tibesti-Jebel Uweinat montane xeric woodlands Chad, Egypt, Libya, Sudan
West Saharan montane xeric woodlands Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Niger


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of xeric
  2. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2009. Overgrazing. Encyclopedia of Earth. Sidney Draggan, topic ed.; Cutler J. Cleveland, ed., National council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC

External links

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