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Hot environment ecosystems case study: the Sonoran desert
Located on the borders of Southern California, Sothern Arizona and
Area is made up of mountain ranges, plains and basins underlain by igneous
or metamorphic sediments
The most arid part is the Salton trough, which is the lowest part at 71m
below sea level.
From the Gulf of California the relief rises through the Sonora uplands
towards the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains.
Sonoran is a arid desert created by its position in a subtropical high
pressure zone (air subsides and is warmed up stopping clouds from forming,
also prevents air rising off the ground and forming clouds)
The peninsular ranges cause aridity by preventing winter westerly's
spreading in from the pacific creating the rains shadow effect.
The cold Californian Ocean current reduces humility along the coast.
Temperatures range from 11 degrees C in January to 30 degrees C in July.
Temperatures can be 40 degrees C in the Salton trough.
Rain is bi-seasonal.
Can be 15m tall and can live for 175 years
Accordion like stem which can expand and fill with water during periods of
Ribbed stem reduces wind currents, which would reduce evaporation losses.
Shallow roots catch water that falls from storms before it evaporates.
Phreatophytes grow beside streams and on edges of salt pans
Are able to survive in soils of high salinity (halophytes)
Fleshy stems store lots of water (succulents)
Waxy skin less water loss via transpiration (cuticle)
Spines instead of leaves- reduce water loss as spines have a smaller surface
area and they help to protect the plant from predators.
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Ring tail lemur
Nocturnal- to avoid the heat at daytime and to avoid predators.
Gets a lot of water from seeds
Large ears- able to lose heat quickly
Pale fur- stops heat from being absorbed and acts as camouflage.…read more
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Domesticated animals such as Donkeys have escaped and multiplied in the
wild, which caused a decline in native species like the bighorn sheep.
Non-native species like tamarisk introduced as a windbreak displacing
cotton woods, and desert willows. Baffle grass was introduced to improve
pasture; by occupying gaps in the vegetation it has increased the fire risk.
In 1994 a fire affected 1150 acres of Saguaro national park, which
destroyed 340 acres of desert scrub and killed many tortoises.…read more