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The Sonoran Desert

A North American Desert

phanisri mudunuri

on 19 February 2013

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Transcript of The Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert Location The Sonoran Desert is a North American Desert which covers parts of the Southwestern US in Arizona, California, Baja California (Mexico), Baja California Sur and Northwest Mexico in Sonora.
It is one of the hottest deserts and largest in NA with area of 311, 000 km square(120,000 mi squares). The western portion of the US- Mexico borders passes through the Sonoran Desert. Location(2) The Sonoran Desert wraps the northern end of the Gulf of California through southeastern California and southwestern and southern Arizona to western and central parts of Sonora (Mexico).
The latitude of the Sonoran Desert range from 25° to 33° North and the longitude ranges from 105° to 110° West. Climate Seasonal temperatures range an average of 52°F in winter, to 86°F in the summer. In some seasons the temperatures can reach 32°F at night. In some portions of the desert, near the tip of Mexico, the temperatures can reach a high of 134° in the shadow Climate(2) The Sonoran Desert is one of the wettest deserts in North America and averages from 3 to 16 inches of rain a year. It has two rainy seasons, one in summer and another in the winter. The summer rains are short and heavy and are often followed by a rainbow. The winter rains are longer and lighter and are more widespread. The desert ggets 120 to 300 mm of rain each year. Daytime temperatures can reach over 40°C during summer monts through May through September. The rain falls during two wet seasons. One rainy season occurs from Dec through March. Other from July through September. Soil The Sonoran Desert soils are quite deep, with a mixture of particle size ranging from fallen rocks to gravels, sands and silts. The open structure of these soils enables water to penetrate and be retained deep in the soil profile, whereas in some regions of desert, there are more tightly packed soils of flatter regions that become saturated easily so that most of the soil, there are various plants living. The soil contains a thin sail with calcium and in some places, cover a bed of limestone called caliche. Saguaro Cactus The Saguaro Cactus has smooth and waxy skin and is covered with 2 inch spines located on the tree's vertical ribs. In May and June, the cactus bears a creamy white flowers with yellow centers that measures about three inches. The Saguaro Cactus flower is found on the end of the branches, flower opens on cooler nights, closes during heat of midday. The stem of cactus can be 18 to 24 inches in diameter. When rains, the cactus soaks water and hold it in its ribs, since it doesn't rain a lot in desert, the cactus uses the water that it stores when it doesn't rain. The Saguaro Cactus is Arizona's state flower. The lifespan of Saguaro Cactus is about 200 years. The cactus lives in rocky terrain consisting of desert slopes and flats. Also lives in bajadas or lowlands. Cactus likes a hot, dry climates. The cactus lives within the desert of southeastern California, southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico, the cactus can grow in areas below elevations of 3,500 feet. Some consumers like nosed bats, bees, wasps, ants and butterflies drink nectar of the cactus flower. Small consumers like pocket mous, pack rat eat the cactus. Gila woodpeckers are the animals that live in the Saguaro Cactus.
Scientific Name: Carnegiea Gigantea Soaptree Yucca The Soaptree Yucca is commonly found in Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico. The plant is found growing in climates that are not just hot and dry like the desert and could be found in rainy seasons in the desert. The Soaptree Yucca is a tall 10- 18 foot plant with a palm treelike leaves, The green leaves of the Soaptree Yucca are long and triangular shaped and are not wide. The stalk that shoots up from the leaves is a twig-thin stalk with small white flowers growing at the top. The plant's fruit is also on the stalk and is a brown capsule until the summer, when it splits into three sections that contains black seeds. The call it Soaptree Yucca because inside roots and trunk of the plant is a soapy substance, the substance was commonly used as a substitute for soap. The leaf of each plant is 25-95 cm long and very slender and each leaf is 0.2-1.3 cm broad or thick. The white, bell shaped flowers grow in a dense cluster on a slender stem at the apex of the stem, each flower is 32-57 mm long, cream whit, often tinged pinkish or greenish. The trunk of the plant is brown, cylindrical in shape and has a small diameter and often has holes drilled by escaping Yucca moth larvae.
Scientific Name: Yucca elata Ocotillo The Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) is a desert plant of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Some common names include desert coral, coachwhip, Jaxob's staff and vine cactus, although it is not a true cactus. Much of year, plant appears to be an arrangment of large spiny dead sticks, although closer examination reveals that the stems are partly green. With rainfall the plant quickly becomes lush with small (2-4 cm) ovate leaves, which remains weeks or even months. Individual stems may reach a diameter of 5 cm at the base, and the plant may grow ta height of 10 m. The plant branches very heavily at its base but above that branches are pole- like. The bright crimson flowers appear especially after rainfall in spring, summer and occasionally fall. The flowers of the plant are clustered at the tips of each mature stem. Individual flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds and native carpenter bees. The Ocotillo is abundant in the Southwest because the soil is well drained on rocky slopes, mesas, out washed plains and desert grasslands. The Ocotillo is deciduous, drought tolerant shrub. From its root crown it grows stems that can be any where from 9 to 30 feet tall. These stems grow in an "S" like pattern making the shrub look like an inverted funnel. The stems are covered with spines that can be 1.5 inches long. The leaves of the shrub are thick and leather like and grow several times in the growing season depending on the amount of rainwater available. The leaves are narrow 2-inch ovals, which can sprout within 3 day of a rainfall. The leaves turn brown and fall off when water is scarce. When the leaves die the stalk and part of the steam become woody and form spines. In the spring the Ocotillo produces flowers, which are tube like and bright red. The flowers are 1/2 to 1 inch in size with 5 lobes curled into 10-inch clusters. They can be seen from March to June and even later depending on rainfall. The Ocotillo can be leafless for a long time, because the roots are deep and do not get much water. Creosote Bushes The creosote bush is named that way because it smells a lot like the creosote tar that is used on telephone poles to preserve the wood. This shrub is mostly found in the southwest part of America and the northwest part of Mexico. You will most likely spot this plant in the desert slopes and plains of Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and, Texas. The Creosote Bush is unique. The bush is a robust shrub that grows very abundantly. The bush is basically a group of 4 to 12 plants that shoot up from one plant in all directions. Some bushes are thought to be thousands of years old. The Creosote Bush has small (1-2 inch) pointy green leaves that are covered with a varnish. These leaves grow directly from the branches of the bush. The Creosote Bush has flowers that also grow along the stems. These flowers are yellow and about the same size of the leaves. The fruit is small and round with gray or white hairy tufts growing from them. The stems of the plant bear resinous, dark green leaves with two opposite leaflets joined at the base, with a deciduous awn between them, each leaflet is 7 to 18 millimeters (0.28 to 0.71 in) long and 4 to 8.5 millimeters (0.16 to 0.33 in) broad. The flowers are up to 25 millimeters (0.98 in) in diameter, with five yellow petals. Galls may form by the activity of the creosote gall midge. The whole plant exhibits an awkward odor of creosote, from which the common name derives.
Species Name: Larrea tridentata Crimson Hedgehog Cactus Common Names: Hedgehog Cactus, Claret Cup Cactus, King's Cup Cactus, Mound Cactus
Genus: Echinocereus
Species: triglochidiatus
There are many different kinds of hedgehog cacti. The Crimson hedgehog cactus is a small barrel shaped cactus that grows in clumps of a few to a hundred stems. The stems are cylindrical in shape and are up to 1 foot long and 1 to 2 1/2 inches thick. There are about 9 or 10 ribs on the stem. This cactus has no leaves and has chlorophyll in the stems. The stems of this Crimson hedgehog are shorter and more tightly packed together than other hedgehog cacti. Echinocerens comes from the Greek word for hedgehog, Echinos. Early settlers thought the spines of the cactus made it look like a hedgehog. Triglochidialus means "three barbed bristles". The hedgehog cactus has clusters of three spines along its ribs. Each spine can be 2 to 3 inches long. The flowers are a beautiful deep red, with many petals that form the shape of a cup. The fruits are red, and edible. The flowers bloom from April through June, and are the first to bloom in the desert. Unlike other cacti, they stay open at night, and bloom for about 3 to 5 days. This species is the only red-flowered hedgehog. They also have pink or lavender anthers. Not only are the flowers open at night, but so are the plant's pores, or stomata. They use the cool night temperatures to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. During the day the plants do their photosynthesis, but they keep their stomata closed so they won't lose any moisture. The plants grow in middle elevations of deserts and mountain deserts. They often grow against rocky outcroppings. They can grow in colder climates because the stems clump so closely together. This reduces surface area through which it can lose heat. It can grow in elevations from 3,020 to 7,915 feet. This plant is native to the American continent. This cactus is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, where it is a resident of varied habitats from low desert to rocky slopes, scrub, and mountain woodland. It is most abundant in shady areas. Barrel Cactus The Barrel cactus can be easily distinguished from other cacti because of it cylinder-shaped body. The cactus usually reaches from around five to eleven feet tall, and at that height it is one of the largest cacti in the North American deserts. This cactus is really a man-sized (or bigger) cylinder with numerous parallel ridges that run down the sides. These ridges are topped with dangerously sharp 3-4 inch spines. The barrel cactus is also a flowering plant. It has rings of yellow-green or red blossoms at its top. The Barrel cactus is found in the Mojave, Sonora, and the Chihuahua deserts. These deserts are found in the land of Baja, Arizona, California, Texas, and Central Mexico. The barrel cactus grows in the desert washes and slopes, but can also be spotted growing along canyon walls. This cactus is also called the fishhook barrel cactus and the Arizona barrel cactus, the candy barrel cactus and the Southwestern barrel cactus and also the compass barell cactus . The fishhook barrel cactus typically grows to a diameter of roughly two feet and a height of three to six feet. However, specimens as wide as three feet and tall as ten feet have been recorded.[1] The common name comes from the spines, which are thick and hooked. It has a leathery asparagus green cortex (skin) with approximately 15-28 ribs per cactus. Its flowers are yellow to red-orange and appear atop the cactus fruit during the summer months. The fruits are green when unripe, yellow after the flower dries up, and persist atop the cactus long after the flower is gone, sometimes for more than a year.n adulthood, fishhook barrel cacti generally leans southward, toward the sun, earning it the nickname "compass barrel cactus." One theory about why this happens is, the afternoon sun is so intense it slows the growth on the exposed side, causing the plant to grow unevenly. Older barrel can lean so far they uproot themselves and fall over especially after heavy rains when the soil is loose.[Its life cycle is 50-100 years. They are most often found growing along washes and arroyos where their seeds have been subjected to scarification due to water movement, but they oddly also tend to grow along ridges in spots where depressions have formed and can hold water for some period of time. It grows in gravelly or sandy soil, more commonly on bajadas than steep slopes, at 1000 to 5300 feet (300-1600 m) elevation. It prefers full sun, and does well in hot arid climates. It is, however, frost-tolerant to 5 °F (-15 °C).
Scientific Name: Ferocactus wislizeni Velvet Mesquite Velvet mesquite is one of the most common, and important plants of the southwestern deserts of the North American continent. It is useful to humans and essential to the survival of wildlife in the desert. Birds, insects, and mammals eat the beans, seek shelter under its canopy, and benefit from the leaf litter and nutrient rich soil under the tree. It grows at elevations below 4,000 to 5,000 feet in desert washes and grasslands. It is the dominant tree species along streams and river beds. There the velvet mesquite forms dense thickets and woodlands, or bosques, from the Spanish word for forests. Velvet mesquite ranges from central and southern Arizona, extreme southwestern New Mexico, and adjacent northern Mexico. It can be found growing in the Chihuahua, Sonoran, and Mojave deserts. The only desert it doesn't occur in is the Great Basin Desert because the temperatures are too cold. There are three common species of mesquite; the honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), screw bean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens), and velvet mesquite. The velvet mesquite is the largest of the mesquite species. It is a low-branched, broad spreading thorny shrub or small tree with a well-developed crown. It can grow as a single-trunked tree about 30 feet tall, and just as wide, with a two feet diameter trunk. When young growth is damaged by frost, fire, or browsing, it will sprout multiple trunks from dormant buds on its stem under the ground and form a shrub. The bark of velvet mesquite is reddish-brown and smooth when young. On older trees the bark becomes gray-brown, rough, thick, and shredded into long, narrow strips. Young, green branches grow in a zig-zag pattern and may be photosynthetic. Two inch-long yellow thorns grow in pairs at the base of each leaf on the young branches. Leaves grow alternately on the branch. The leaves themselves are bi pinnate, compound, about 3-6 inches long, and pointed. The leaf has two sets of compound leaves, usually with four major leaflets and 10-20 narrow minor leaflets 1/3 to 1/2 inch long, which grow opposite each other on the stem. The leaves are dark to dusky green with a gray, hairy surface and paler undersides. Velvet Mesquite (2) The flowers are yellow-green, drooping catkins about 2-3 inches long. The flowers have bell-shaped catkinss, and 5 petals. The flowers are tiny, but there are hundreds in a catkin. The velvet mesquite is pollinated by insects. The seeds are contained in straight or slightly curved, flat seed pods about 3-8 inches long. They grow singly, or in drooping clusters. Seed pods are straw colored, and are covered in short, velvety hairs when young. They mature 7-9 weeks after flowering. In Arizona they mature in July and drop in September. The beans are sweet to the taste. The seed pods are a nutritious source for wild life. Wild turkeys, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, wood rats, javelinas, coyotes and mule deer all benefit from the leaves, flowers and seeds of the velvet mesquite. Studies have shown that when available, 80% of a coyotes diet is made up of mesquite pods.
Scientific Name: Prosopis velutina Banded Gila Monster The Banded Gila Monster is very shy but can strike back very quickly, with painful results. It is a subspecies of the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum), and is one of two venomous types of lizard in the world. They are pink, orange and red. Four or five black bands with spots in them run around the body. The tail is also banded. Their heads are spotted with black around their eyes and mouth. Their patterns are really amazing because their colors send out a warning to any predators that they are venomous. The Banded Gila Monster can get to be 2 feet long and can weigh up to 3 pounds. They have a big head, fat body, and a thick, short tail. They have short legs with average sized claws for a lizard of its size. Its skin is dry because it lives in the desert and can't afford to lose fluids. The texture is bumpy. The Gila monster hunts at day, but is hardly ever seen by people because it is so shy. The Banded Gila Monster is mainly found in the Mojave Desert. It is named for the Gila River Basin which is found in the southwestern United States The Gila Monster mates in July and lays its eggs a few weeks later. They lay 3 to 15 eggs in a hole then cover them with sand. They hatch in 28 to 30 days. The babies are 3.5 to 4.5 inches long. They can survive on their own after they hatch. When they are 1 to 3 years old they are adult size. We don't know much about the Banded Gila Monster, because it spends most of its life underground in burrows. It is most active in the spring time. It is active during the day and comes out in the morning, because it gets too hot in the afternoon. Banded Gila Monster(2) The Banded Gila Monster spends most of its life alone, but they do gather together during mating season. This amazing lizard has such good hearing and vision that it can lay inside its burrow until it is safe to come out. When it is under trees or bushes it is camouflaged and when it is not, its red, pink, orange, and black colors are a warning to predators. It stores fat in its tail and its body. It can survive on its fat, or stored energy, for about three months. It has very strong jaws and venom that can be released through its bottom teeth. The bottom teeth are large and have grooves for the venom to flow through them. The Gila Monsters venom is about as strong as a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. When it bites you it chews as it bites and that is how the venom gets into you. You don't usually die because it only injects a small amount of venom. When it bites you its jaws are hard to get off because they are very strong. Scientists are testing the venom to see if it can be used to treat diabetes. The Gila Monster eats bird and reptile eggs, young rodents and small reptiles, baby birds, rabbits and hares. They can eat huge amounts of food at one time and they can store fat in their tails and their bodies. The Gila Monster is a predator. Sometimes it digs its own holes and some times it uses holes dug by other animals for their burrows. They live in heavy brush, or rocky brushy wash bed or canyon bottoms. The Gila Monster is not endangered. It is listed in Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Appendix II. CITES lists species that can become endangered. Collectors for the pet trade can only catch a certain amount of lizards and need permits to do that. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as vulnerable so you cant collect them or own them without a permit. Many people are making farms and destroying their habitat.
Scientific Name: Heloderma suspectum cinetum Coyotes The Coyote has a tan coat mixed with hairs of rusty brown and gray, and the ends of the hair may be black. The different colors help to hide the coyote in the underbrush, rocks, and grasses. The coyote has large, pointed ears and a bushy tail. Coyotes are known for their sharp eyesight, keen hearing and a keen sense of smell. Adult coyotes can grow to be 4 feet long (including the tail which can be 11 - 16 inches long). They can be 2 feet tall and weigh up to 30 pounds. Coyotes once only lived in Western America, but people have forced them to find other habitats. Coyotes can be found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They live in all kinds of habitats including deserts, prairies and mountains. Coyotes have even been found on Cape Cod. Coyotes are omnivores and eat mostly rabbits and rodents. They also hunt antelope, goats, sheep, and other animals. They will eat insects and reptiles. Dead elk and deer, as well as cattle will become the main food in the northern wintertime. Coyotes will also eat fruits and nuts. As coyotes are forced to move closer to people, they will also eat garbage. Most coyotes live alone or in pairs. They might live together in larger groups. Coyote families guard and mark their own areas. Pups are born in the spring. A female can have from 3 - 12 pups. Both parents care for and feed the pups. Coyote's coloring help it to hide in the desert and hunt for it's prey. Coyotes will eat almost anything available to them where ever they are; fruits, rodents, small animals, and garbage. Coyotes are clever animals and adjust to their environment. Coyotes are not endangered. Their natural enemies include mountain lions and more recently man.
Scientific Name: Canis latrans Bobcat The average bobcat weighs 15 to 20 pounds, and is 2 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet long. The bobcat looks pretty much like a regular cat except bigger. The desert bobcat's color is a mixture of white, black, brown, and orange. The bobcat often gets confused with the mountain lion because of its fearsome growl. Bobcats can be found almost anywhere, but one of the most common places is the southwest desert. They like it there the most because of the bushy, and rocky terrain. The bushes give shade if it's hot, and the rocks are a perfect hiding spot if they're hunting prey. The bobcat's diet consist of rabbits, squirrels, mice, gophers,rats, and fish. They're good at catching all their prey because of their hunting ability. A bobcat's mating is a lot like a regular house cat's mating. That's one similarity that they have. Bobcats will have one litter of kittens a year. A litter of bobcats consists of 2 to 3 kittens. When food is scarce, a bobcat will not have a litter at all. When a female has kittens, she will only hunt right around her den and not use all of her hunting territory. She will wean the kittens by three months and then bring back killed animals. Once they get used to eating meat, she brings them back live prey so they can practice hunting and killing. They will stay with the mother for almost one year, leaving in the spring. Despite the bobcat's cute appearance it is actually very fierce and can kill animals as large as deer. A good thing about the bobcat is it won't kill any healthy large prey unless it's desperate. The bobcat always goes for the sick or wounded first. This is good because the sick won't spread disease to others. Bobcat(2) Bobcats are loners. Each bobcat has its own territory which it will not share with other bobcats, except for females. The bobcat's status in the wild used to be very plentiful, but too many people took advantage of that and almost killed them off. A good thing now is that the big game people are protecting them. Bobcats typically live to six or eight years of age, with a few reaching beyond ten. The longest they have been known to live is 16 years in the wild and 32 years in captivity. The adult bobcat has few predators other than man. Cougars and gray wolves will kill adult bobcats, a behavior repeatedly observed in Yellowstone National Park. Coyotes have also killed adult bobcats. The bobcat is an adaptable animal. It prefers woodlands—deciduous, coniferous, or mixed—but unlike the other Lynx species, it does not depend exclusively on the deep forest. It ranges from the humid swamps of Florida to desert lands of Texas or rugged mountain areas. It will make its home near agricultural areas, if rocky ledges, swamps, or forested tracts are present; its spotted coat serves as camouflage. The population of the bobcat depends primarily on the population of its prey; other principal factors in the selection of habitat type include protection from severe weather, availability of resting and den sites, dense cover for hunting and escape, and freedom from disturbance. Bobcat(3) Scientific Name: Felis Rufus Ocotillo(2) The Ocotillo has adapted to its environment by shedding its small leaves during dry spells. It can also grow new leaves 5 days after getting water. It has a shallow, but wide root system, which it uses to gather rainwater. It produces food because the Ocotillo can perform photosynthesis during dry spells. The Ocotillo is pollinates by hummingbirds that like the honey nectar it produces. They feed on the flowers during their travel north from Mexico to the mountains of the Western US. The Ocotillo is very plentiful and not endangered because it's the only Fonquieria to be cultivated. The plant is easily grown from seed and cuttings and sold as nursery stock. The shrub is often use as "fencing" because its spines stop people and animals from passing through. The Ocotillo can be planted at anytime of the year. The Ocotillo is a desert success story. It is a plant that has adapted to its environment, and it is useful to both animals and mankind.
Scientific Name: Fonquieria splendens Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope Pronghorn Antelopes are native to America and are found nowhere else in the world. They are the last surviving member of the Antilocarpidae family. Once they were as abundant as the buffalo. But by the 1920s only about 13,000 animals remained. Due to conservation and range management there are now about 500,000 pronghorns in the United States and Canada. The Mexican population isn't doing as well and it is estimated that only 1,200 animals remain. Part of this dwindling population consists of the Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope, a desert sub--species of the pronghorn. Only about 480 animals remain in North America and they are on the brink of extinction. They are found only in two small areas of the Sonoran Desert of southwestern Arizona and northern Mexico. In Arizona they are found in alluvial valleys, separated by mountains and mesas. It rains in the winter and summer, but spring and autumn bring very dry, arid weather. The landscape is dry and sparsely vegetated with cactus, creosote bush, tumbleweed, and ocotillo. Smaller than a white-tailed deer, the Sonoran pronghorns stand less than 3 feet at the shoulders. Their overall body length, including their short tail, is 48 to 57 inches. Males can weigh 90 to 130 lbs. and females 75 to 110 lbs. Females are about 10% smaller than the males. The upper part of the Sonoran pronghorn is a rich tan color. Their underpart, rump , and two bands across their neck are white. A short 2-4 inch black mane runs down the back of their neck. Males have a black mask and black cheek patches. Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope(2) Their eyes are set high on their heads, and are very large in comparison to their body. They can see something moving as far as 4 miles away. The pronghorn has a unique ability to raise patches of its stiff, hollow hair to release body heat in the hot summer. In the winter months the hairs insulate them against the cold. The pronghorn also has very special horns. Both males and females have antlers. The female antlers are short. The male has large, straight pronged antlers about 12 inches long which curve back at the ends. They are made of an outer sheath of black keratin which grows around a permanent bony core. After the breeding season they lose the sheath, but the short horn underneath remains. Next year new antlers grow back over the bony horn. Sonoran pronghorns are lightly built and have long, slender legs which allow them to run faster than any mammal in North America. They can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour for short bursts, but can run at 35 miles per hour for long distances. Both their speed and keen eyesight help them avoid predators. They are able to make the white hairs on their rump stand straight up to signal danger. This white flag can be seen from a long distance. Their one weakness is their curiosity. They will often return to see what scared them in the first place. Native Americans and early settlers used this weakness to lure them into a trap by waving a piece of cloth or branch. Pronghorn does can breed at 16 months, and bucks are ready when they are 1 year old. The Sonoran pronghorn breeds from July to September. Their gestation period is about 245 days. The doe gives birth to 1 and sometimes 2 fawns which weigh about 5 to 7 lbs. She will hide her fawns in separate places in dips or swales, and come back to feed them twice a day. The fawns have no smell, and lie very still, which makes it difficult for predators to find them. They are weaned at 4 to 5 months and reach their mature size at 6 months. Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope(3) Pronghorns are ruminants. They have a four part stomach which lets them digest rough textured food and get more moisture from it. The Sonoran pronghorns are listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and endangered by the IUNC, or International Union for the Conservation of Nature. It is also listed as CITES Appendix I. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species is a United Nations treaty which regulates international trade in wild animals and plants. Poaching, habitat loss from overgrazing of cattle, and restriction of movement by fencing (pronghorns don't jump) are all threats to its survival. Fawns are vulnerable to coyotes, bobcats, and golden eagles.
Scientific Name: Antilocarta americana sonoriensis Desert Kangroo Rat The kangaroo rat is a very cute little critter that kind of looks like a mini kangaroo, but is as big as a mouse.It has large hind legs and feet. It usually grow to about 14 inches (38 cm) in length, including its tail. Its hair is a yellow buff color above and white below. The tail has a white-tipped tuft at the end. The thing that sticks out the most is the Kangaroo rat's very big eyes. The kangaroo rat lives in the desert scrub of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of California and Arizona, and western through southern Nevada.These are the most arid desert regions in the United States. They live in large dens with wide openings which they dig themselves at the base of bushes, like creosote bush , or in the banks of wind drifted sand. There may be 6 to 12 entrances which they block off during the day. Their burrows are up to 4 1/2 feet (1.5 m) deep, with many passages which connect to food storage rooms and a nest chamber. The nest is made out of grass and other plants. It spends most of its day underground sleeping, and comes out to feed at night when it is cooler. Desert Kangroo Rat(2) The female kangaroo rat has 3 or more litters of babies a year which are born from January through June. She is pregnant for 29 to 32 days. The newborns weigh about 1/16 oz (3 g). The babies are weaned at 3 to 4 weeks. Their life span in the wild is 3 to 5 years. They are solitary creatures, only one animal occupies a burrow, and have territories of about 1/2 acre. The kangaroo rat moves exactly like a real kangaroo, but is not a real kangaroo. It is actually a rodent. They drum the ground with their hind legs and kick sand at objects, probably to see if its alive. The kangaroo rat mostly eats seeds, leaves, stems and insects. It has adapted to desert life by getting its water from the food it eats. Another great adaptation the kangaroo rat has is a cheek pouch, which it can store food in for weeks while finding shelter. Another is its big, long, fluffy tail. It uses its tail for balance and steering its way. The Kangaroo rat is the biggest of its kind and dominates other Dipodomys. Predators include coyotes, foxes, badgers, snakes, owls. The kangaroo rats are not endangered, and their status in the wild is very good right now.
Scientific Name: Dipodomys deserti Desert Bighorn Sheep Desert bighorn sheep is a subspecies of the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. It's preferred habitat are steep slopes on, or near mountains, with a clear view of the surrounding area. They have excellent eyesight and can spot predators from a long way off. They live in small pockets of dry desert mountain ranges, foothills near rocky cliffs, and water when it is available. They exist in a barren, mostly waterless environment in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts on the North American continent. The desert bighorn sheep have a solid, stocky, and muscular body on short legs. They are not as stocky as the Rocky Mountain bighorn, and their horns are flatter and spread out more from their heads. The horns can weigh as much as 30 lb (14 kg). Their muzzle is narrow and pointed, while their ears are short. They have very acute eyesight which helps them gage distances when jumping from rock to rock. Their sharp-edged cloven hooves are elastic and concave. Their coat is smooth and made up of an outer coat of stiff guard hairs and a short, wavy undercoat. In the summer it is a rich, glossy brown color with a white rump patches. By late winter the color fades. The males, or rams, have huge brown horns with horizontal ridges. They curl back over the ears, down and up again past the cheeks. The females, or ewes, have smaller horns that never get larger than half a curl. Bighorn sheep have a double-layered skull honeycombed with bone struts to protect their brains during their impressive head-banging battles. Thick tendons link the skull and spine to help recoil from the impact. The rams weigh from 119-127 kg, and measure 160-180 cm from head to tail. Ewes weigh 53-91 kg and are approximately 150 cm long. Desert Bighorn Sheep(2) Yews and rams usually gather in same sex groups, and go their separate way when they are not breeding. During the summer lamb-rearing season ewes stay in the upper levels of the mountains. In late fall and early winter the rams will gather up to 12 ewes into a harem. They don't defend territories, but battle other males over mating access to the females. Rams will charge each other and smash their heads together in impressive and loud battles. Age and the size of its horns determine the dominant status of a ram. Males usually don't mate until they are seven years old. The average life span of a desert bighorn is approximately 9 years. Most sheep live for more than 10 years, except when they become overcrowded, in which case their life span is only 6-7 years. The females are led by an old ewe. Young females will usually stay with their mother's group, but the males leave when they are 2-4 years old to join a group of rams. Desert bighorns have a long lambing season. In the Mojave Desert it begins in December and ends in June. A few lambs are even born during the summer as well. Mating can last from July to December. Their gestation time lasts about 174 days. They will have from 1-3 lambs. The females will choose a steep and safe area for the birth and raising of the lambs. The lambs are able to quickly follow their mother after only a week. Within a few weeks the lambs gather in small bands of their own, and search out their mothers only to suckle. They are completely weaned by 4-6 months. A disease has been documented in Mojave and Sonoran desert bighorns which results in high death rates for lambs from pneumonia. This disease can continue for several years and results in large population declines. Desert Bighorn Sheep(3) Bighorns are ruminants, which allows them to digest grass, even when it is dried out. They are mostly diurnal and will feed on and off throughout the day on a large variety of plants. The eat grasses, sedges, and forbs. They will also browse on shrubs and trees like the desert ironwood when their preferred food is scarce. The desert bighorns need water about every three days in the summer. Some wildlife refuges construct artificial water holes. However, desert bighorn sheep get a lot of their moisture from the food they eat. The Rocky Mountain bighorns and the desert bighorns of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts are descended from the wild sheep of Central Asia. Before the last ice age the ancestors of North America's bighorn sheep crossed the Bering land bridge from the Mongolia and Tibet. Originally the bighorn sheep were found from Baja California and Texas in the south to the Canadian Rockies. Their eastern boundary reached western Nebraska. Approximately 2 million bighorn sheep lived in North America at one time. Now they live on only 4% of their historic ranges. Today the overall population of bighorn sheep is about 25,000, with the desert bighorn sheep numbering around 4,000. Desert bighorn sheep have been nearly wiped out by diseases, over-hunting, loss of habitat, and competition with livestock. Fragmentation of their population by fences, highways and aqueducts has also contributed to some decline in their population. Access between mountains is necessary to give the desert bighorn access to other bighorn populations, thereby keeping them genetically healthy. Desert Bighorn Sheep (4) Scientific Name: Ovis canadensis nelsoni The Producers - the cacti, shrubs and plants.
The Primary Consumers – the kangaroo rat, cactus mouse, lizards, poorwill, and desert tortoise.
The Secondary Consumers – the kit fox, elf owl, red-tailed hawk, scorpion, roadrunner, and rattlesnake.
The Scavengers – the vulture and beetles.
The Decomposers or Detrivores – mushrooms, insects and microorganisms. Cactus Wren The Cactus Wren lives in the arid and semi-arid deserts of southwestern United States and the chaparral of southern California and northern Mexico. The Cactus Wren is usually found below 4,000 feet. The California chaparral has hot and dry summers and humid and cold winters. It normally gets about 6 inches of rain per year. At 7-9 inches (18-22 cm) long, the Cactus Wren is the largest wren in the United States. Both sexes look alike. Both are brown and have a white stripe running over each eye. Their throats are white, and their beaks are dark, long and slightly curved. White and black streaks cover their backs. Their belly and sides are white to buff with dense spotting on the breast. The short and rounded wings have black and white banding. Legs and feet are tan colored. They are very active and curious birds. They quickly investigate anything new in their territory. If you leave your car windows down or the garage doors open they are sure to enter and check it out thoroughly. Cactus Wrens like to breed in successional chaparral scrub (chaparral that has recently come back from a burn). The female will select a nesting site in low, thorny trees or shrubs. In the Sonoran desert they prefer the well protected branches of the chain fruit cholla. Both male and female help build a football-shaped nest of dry grasses lined with feathers or other soft materials. A small side entrance protects the nest from predators. Cactus Wrens will first breed from February to early March and continue to have more broods through June if conditions are right. Four or five buff colored eggs speckled with brown are laid at one time. The size of the clutch (amount of eggs laid) is determined by the food supply. This is an adaptation Cactus Wrens have made to the changing food availability in their desert and chaparral habitats. The female incubates the eggs for 16 days while the male builds several more nest throughout his territory for roosting and future nesting sites. After the eggs hatch both parents will feed the hatchlings. The young fledge, or leave the nest, in 19 to 23 days. The fledglings stay with their parents for about a month. Cactus Wren(2) Cactus Wrens don't migrate and are considered permanent residents of the region they live in. Males will vigorously defend their territory throughout the breeding season. They sing territorial songs, although the songs are not very musical. The song consist of a one-pitched monotone of chuh,chuh, chuh, chuh, gaining speed towards the end. The Cactus Wren mainly eats insects like ants, beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, fruits, seeds, and and sometimes a treefrog or lizard. It will sometimes eat seeds and fruit. It has adapted to its hot habitat by shifting its foraging behavior according to the temperature. It begins to forage on the ground, and in the branches of shrubs in the late morning. As the temperature rises it will shift its foraging to shady, cooler areas. They stop foraging during the hot afternoon and rest in a shady area. They get almost all of their water from the food they eat. The California chaparral, home to the Cactus Wren on the west coast, is quickly disappearing because of development and urbanization. Only small patches of true chaparral are left. Most of the remaining chaparral isn't large enough to sustain a Cactus Wren population. Cactus Wrens prefer the low, thorny bushes and scrub of the chaparral to build their nests because it protects their broods from predators such as snakes. The Cactus Wren is very adaptable to changing environments, as long as native chaparral plants are provided to build its rather large nests in. The Cactus Wren is not considered endangered or threatened throughout its range. However, like all songbirds, it is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Scientific Name: Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus Bibliography http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/desert_animal_page.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gila_monster The End
By: Phanisri Mudunuri 704
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