Survival of the Driest | How Life Flourishes in the Desert

The desert ecosystem is the driest ecosystem on earth. Few plants and animals can survive there and those who do have mastered the art of survival in extremely dry conditions. A desert ecosystem receives very little rainfall or precipitation. This is the reason it has less vegetation and less diversity of life.

It is a cruel, harsh and hostile environment in which to live–and yet; we have not only done it, but mastered it.

The desert is home to a wide variety creatures: from mammals to insects as well as reptiles and birds. The creatures of the desert have mastered the ability to strike a delicate balance between the hunter and hunted, without throwing off the balance of other creatures within the desert.

Their versatility and adaptability have permitted them the power to not only survive, but even to thrive in difficult circumstances. To thrive in such a dry environment requires strong instinctual survival skills.

Animals and plants that can survive in the desert have developed strong mechanisms to keep predators away. The cactus is the plant version of the porcupine. All cacti have adapted to promote efficient water use. They are even able to survive droughts, which most animals and humans cannot.

Desert centipedes, in particular, rely on their ability to feel vibrations. As they are close to the ground, they can feel and even hear the vibrations emanating from the earth. While their vision is often cited as poor or even nil, those with ‘simple eyes’ are able to sense light–even if they do not possess true vision.

Some deserts are among the planet’s last remaining areas of total wilderness. Yet more than one billion people, one-sixth of the Earth’s population live in desert regions. While they have a reputation for being arid and devoid of life, the truth couldn’t be further than that.

The Bedouin, in particular, are nomadic Arab tribes who have inhabited the desert regions in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, the Levant and Mesopotamia. The English word bedouin has its roots in the Arabic badawī, which means “desert dweller”. It is traditionally contrasted with ḥāḍir, the term for sedentary people. They are traditionally divided into tribes or clans and historically share a common culture of herding camels and goats.

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