Species can’t survive beyond certain temperatures, and climate change has risen the existing severe obstacles in the survival of species in deserts.
Adaptations to the natural conditions has been critical tendency which has played an important role in the survival of all living species on the planet. The earth’s climate is not the same everywhere. This makes our ecosystem diverse. The temperature on the planet varies from extreme negative to extreme positive throughout the year. It is also rich in dense forests, ocean, sunlight. Whereas, one fifth of the land on this planet is covered by desert.
Desert is a result of desertification. It is defined as arid, semi-arid and dry-sub-humid land degradation. A deterioration of productive ecosystem due to destruction of biological potential of land leads to desert like conditions. A very early stage of this is drought: a natural disaster of lack of water for over a period of years in particular location. A place with rainfall less than 10 inch/ year for several years is generally considered under the category of drought and desert.
Deserts are not similar everywhere, polar deserts such as Antarctica and Arctic are extremely cold deserts. Deserts near the equator are hot, but delve in extreme hot to extreme cold according to the seasons. The world map of deserts is shown in Fig.1. Due to lack of favourable conditions to flourish ecosystem, existing species adapt habits such that they can sustain themselves in the extremities of desert.
Animals in hot deserts rest for the day and become active at night. Desert toads remain dormant deep in the ground until the summer rains fill ponds. Then they emerge, breed, lay eggs and replenish their body reserves of food and water for another long period. Some arthropods, such as the fairy shrimps and brine shrimps, survive as eggs, hatching in saline ponds and playas during summer or winter rains, and completing their life cycles.
But, these species cannot survive beyond certain temperatures. Climate change is at its peak since last 100 years. Deserts are no exception to its effect by increasing frequency, duration and severity of droughts. Climate change has risen the existing severe obstacles in the survival of species in deserts. Also, it is one of the main causes to increase 10% desert land in the past few decades. This is due to changing environmental conditions, winds and drought due to exploitation of natural resources.
We are on high alert to preserve our lands and prevent them from drought and ultimately desertification. Few steps are taken by international and national organizations. Actions such as planting trees to recover lands, and developing technologies for vegetation in the deserted land to solve food problems are helpful. Also, United Nations (UN) has declared 17th June of each year as the ‘International Day to Combat Desertification and Drought’. This is to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. It is important to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and cooperation at all levels.
Let’s join the movement and preserve land, water and ourselves!
Edited by: Anomitra Dey