“A habitat, or biome, is the type of environment in which plants and animals live” (Habitats 2017, para. 1). In other words, a habitat is an environmental zone where particular species of animals, plants, and other organisms can be found. There are three main groups of habitats: terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats. This paper is aimed at the comparison of two natural habitats, desert and rainforest, and two species of animals that live there.
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Deserts are terrestrial habitats. There are deserts all across the globe. Howard (2014, p. 6) emphasizes that “deserts cover about one-fifth of the Earth’s surface.” The area that receives less than 250 mm of rainfall a year can be named desert (Desert 2017, para. 1). Contrary to popular belief, not all deserts are hot, dry, and sandy. Some deserts are cold. The brightest example of cold deserts is Antarctica that is covered by ice. Also, the surface area of most deserts contains rock and stones. The world’s largest hot desert is the Sahara. Cook and Vizy (2015) illustrate that the area of this desert is 9,200,000 square kilometers.
Rainforests are terrestrial habitats too. It is characterized by a warm and wet climate. Hollar (2011, p. 44) describes rainforest as “a term for a forest of broad-leaved evergreen trees that receives high annual rainfall and is characteristically associated with tropical and subtropical regions of the world.” Rainforests receive from 1,5 to 2,4 meters of rain annually. Rainforests are often named jungles. Rainforests cover about six percent of the Earth’s surface (Rainforest 2017). There are two types of rainforests: tropical and temperate rainforests. The biggest tropical rainforest is the Amazon rainforest in South Africa.
There are some obvious differences between deserts and rainforests. However, the major difference is climate. Rainforests are warm and wet. Whereas, the majority of deserts are hot and dry and receive a small amount of rainfall annually. Despite the harsh climate, deserts do not lack life. To survive in the desert, animals and plants have to adapt to their conditions. For instance, plants that inhabit deserts do not require a great amount of water to live. When it rains, plants absorb as much water as possible very fast because water evaporates quickly in deserts, and it never goes deep into the soil. That is why a lot of desert plants have shallow roots. However, plants are scarce in deserts due to the lack of water, and the diversity of desert flora cannot be compared with a wide range of plants growing in rainforests. Rainforests contain more than half of all world’s biotic species. Some scientists assure that there are a lot of species of plants and invertebrates that are still undiscovered in tropical rainforests. Rainforests provide ideal conditions for plants, while deserts have a low ability to support plant life.
The same holds for fauna. The warm climate and constant rainfalls contribute to the diversity of animals in rainforests. As previously explained, tropical and temperate rainforests are home to more than half of all world’s biotic species. On the contrary, deserts are not considered to be the most suitable environment for animal life. There are not enough sources of water and food in deserts. What is more, hot daytime temperatures affect animals? Many desert animals are nocturnal, and they are very efficient at conserving water.
A lot of people associate deserts with camels. These animals are called ‘ships of deserts’. A distinctive feature of these mammals is a humped back. The camel has some ways to adapt to the desert. Firstly, it has humps that consist of stored fat. This fat is metabolized when the camel is short of food and water. Moreover, the camel has some features to protect itself from sand such as long lashes and a third eyelid that protect eyes. Also, the camel closes its nostrils during dust storms.
The brightest example of rainforest animals is the jaguar. The jaguar is a big cat that is perfectly adapted to rainforests. The jaguar’s spotted orange-brown fur is a sort of camouflage in rainforests. It helps to catch prey. Apart from this, the jaguar has excellent swimming abilities that are necessary because there is a lot of water in rainforests. However, the most important jaguar’s feature is a good night vision. It helps jaguars to hunt at nighttime.
To sum up, deserts and rainforests are kinds of terrestrial habitats. However, these two habitats are very different in terms of their abilities to support animal and plant life. While rainforests provide ideal conditions for plant and animal life, the climate of deserts is extremely harsh. Nevertheless, animals and plants tend to adapt to their conditions. The camel is a representative of desert animals, and the jaguar is a typical rainforest animal. Both of them have their ways to adapt to their environments.
Cook, K & Vizy, E 2015, ‘Detection and analysis of an amplified warming of the Sahara Desert’, Journal of Climate, vol. 28, no. 16, pp. 6560-6580.
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Hollar, S 2012, Investigating Earth’s desert, grassland, and rainforest biomes (introduction to Earth science), Britannica Educational Publishing, New York.
Howard, F 2012, Deserts, ABDO Publishing Company, Edina.
Rainforest. 2017. Web.