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BIO 101 Ecosystem of the Mojave Desert




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Ecosystem of the Mojave Desert
Ecosystem of the Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert is 54,000 square miles of its own special brand of
diversity; it is one desert - rather than a series of separate entities. By
becoming aware of the combined identity, appreciation and better
understanding of the issues that affect the Mojave Desert can occur on a
holistic level. Generally, at the edges of the Mojave are areas where
dominant plant and animal species change from one to another and
both, to various degrees may be possibly found on the fringes of the
other. The Mojave Desert ecosystem evolves from plants and animals
which are resources within each other. Adaption to the rough
temperatures and little water, these ecosystems finds many ways to
This ecosystem plays host to a wide variety of plants and animals living
in an environment that humans may think are harsh conditions. Many
animals get their energy by eating plants, but desert plants give up the
fruit of their production very reluctantly. Sharp spines, such as a cactus,
discourage plant-eaters. The Mule deer avoids these obstacles by eating
seeds, although safe to eat, they can be hard to find. Many are small
and look like grains of sand. The plant's solar energy flows through the
ecosystem as Mule deer, and other herbivores like jackrabbits, fall prey
to carnivores like great horned owls, coyotes, bobcats, or snakes
(Townsend, Harper & Begon, 2000).

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Survival in the desert cannot occur without animals and
plantsdependency on each other. Interdependence is the relationship
between plants and animals. Animals look for food and shelter from
desert plants and plants also need animals to help them pollinate and
grow flowers. According to Desert USA, animals are instrumental in both
fertilizing and spreading plant seed throughout the desert (1996-2012).
These animals help to maintain diverse plant life within the desert.
Desert animals have survived with the need of small amounts of water to
survive. Many animals depend on forms of desert plants that provide
them with water. There are plants consumed for their sap and nectar.
Some rodentspecies are capable to receive water from dry plant seeds.
They can manufacture the water metabolically due to their small bodies.
Rodents will not drink water even in captivity (Digital Desert, 2010).
Organisms need energy; they also need sources of nutrients like
nitrogen and phosphorus. Energy flows one way through an ecosystem,
whereas nutrients are recycled. Animals, plants, and bacteria all play
different roles in these two basic patterns; often they depend on each
other to ensure a supply of nutrients or of energy (Digital Desert, 2010)
There are many organisms that exist in the Mojave. From plants and
trees to birds and mammals, each animal serves a function in the
ecosystem. Each organism, too, must adapt to the harsh environment
that surrounds it. The arid, hot climate and cold nights require
adaptations of all organisms that inhabit the Mojave Desert and other
deserts like it (Digital Desert, 2010).
Plants and trees that exist in the Mojave Desert include: the Joshua tree,
California juniper, bitterbrush, sweet bush, sagebrush, the prickly poppy,
the fan palm oases, and the pinyon pine. In addition to plants, the
Mojave is alive with insect and spiders such as the Aztec pygmy
grasshopper, blister beetle, Carolina wolf spider, desert tarantula,
inconspicuous crab spider, Jerusalem cricket, little black ant, Mormon
cricket, and the red velvet ant (2010). This list is only an abbreviated list
of the plant and insect inhabitants of the Mojave; many more inhabit this
arid terrain.
Reptiles, mammals, and birds are other organisms that make the Mojave
home. Included are the fringe-toed lizard, western diamondback and

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