Desert Life: Animals, Plants, People & the Environment


Fonts Point in Anza Borrego

What is a Desert?

Deserts are often defined as areas that receive less than 10 inches of average annual rainfall. More...

Grand Canyon

Deserts of North America

Distinct desert areas are determined on the basis of the species of plants growing in a particular desert region. More...

Chihuahuan Desert

The Chihuahuan Desert

The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert in North America covering more than 200,000 square miles. More...

Great Basin Desert

The Great Basin Desert

The Great Basin Desert is a cool or "cold desert" due to its more northern latitude, as well as higher elevations. More...


Mojave Desert

The Mojave Desert

The Mojave Desert has the lowest absolute elevation and the highest maximum temperature of all the North American deserts. More...

Saguaro Cactus

The Sonoran Desert

The hottest of the North American deserts, the Sonoran Desert, possesses a bimodal rainfall pattern that produces a high biological diversity. More...

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon

Desert Geological Terms

Deserts contain special geologic features including alluvial fans hogbacks and hoodoos. More...

Bryce Canyon

Desert Environment & Geology

Learn about the rocks, minerals and gemstones that form our North American deserts. More...

Desert Animals & Plants

Desert Plant Survival

Desert Plant Survival

Desert plants have adapted to extremes of heat and aridity by using both physical and behavioral mechanisms. More...


What Animals Live in the Desert?

Find out what animals live in the desert and how they survive. More...

Desert Landscape

Desert Plants & Wildflowers

The deserts are renowned for the annual explosion of spring wildflowers and succulent cactus.. More...


How Are Plants Classified?

Scientists have worked to classify organisms in a way that would help clarify relationships among species. More...

Prairie Dog

How Are Animals Classified?

Scientists estimate that earth’s 5 to 40 million species of organisms make up a total of some two trillion tons of living matter. More...


Desert Food Chain

The sun fuels the work required for biologic processes embodied in a system of interdependent species. More...

Bristol Dry Lake

Desert Food Chain for Kids

A food chain always begins with the plants, called "producers." More...


Desert Animal Survival

Lack of water creates a survival problem for all desert organisms. Animals though, are more susceptible to extremes of temperature than are plants. More...

People in the Desert


Desert People & Cultures

Ancient cliff dwellers, modern American Indians, settlers, cowboys, miners - the desert has been home to them all. More...

Human in the Desert

Desert Survival for People

Learning to be part of the desert's ecosystem is the first step of desert survival. Being prepared is an obvious benefit. More...


Water in the Desert

“It is not a place to fall down, exhausted,” said Tom Cahill in  National Geographic Adventure, “People on the ground are literally roasted alive.” More...


Southwestern Water Resources

Severe droughts have occurred in the Southwest more than a dozen times during the past eight centuries. More...

And more...

Wild Burros in Oatman

Vanishing Riparian Landscapes

Early Anglo-American explorers found many rivers and streams still in pristine condition at the mid-nineteenth century. More...


Wildfires in the Southwest

While wildfires in desert basins and mountain ranges leave scars across the land, they can also play a beneficial environmental role. More...

Map of Canyon de Chelly

Desert Maps

DesertUSA has collected or created many maps for National Parks, cities, ghost towns, and rock collecting areas. More...

Cave in Gallup, NM

Seasonal Migration

Although birds are often the most evident of the migrants, animals as small as pinhead-sized spiders and as large as blue whales migrate by land, air or water. More...


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