ANIMAL HABITATS The natural place where an animal gets its food, shelter and protection
Deserts Far from being barren wastelands, deserts are biologically rich habitats with a vast array of animals and plants that have adapted to the harsh conditions there. Desert animals have adapted ways to help them keep cool and use less water. Camels, for example, can go for days without food and water. Many desert animals are nocturnal, coming out only when the brutal sun has descended to hunt. Some animals, like the desert tortoise in the southwestern United States, spend much of their time underground. Desert plants may have to go without fresh water for years at a time. Some plants have adapted to the arid climate by growing long roots that tap water from deep underground. Other plants, such as cacti, have special means of storing and conserving water. Many desert plants can live to be hundreds of years old.
Grasslands Grasslands are found where there is not enough regular rainfall to support the growth of a forest, but not so There are two different kinds of grasslands: tropical and temperate. Grasslands in the southern hemisphere tend to get more precipitation than those in the northern hemisphere. Some grasses grow more than 7 feet (2 meters), and have roots extending several feet into the soil. little as to form a desert. The animals that live in temperate grasslands have adapted to the dry, windy conditions. There are grazing animals like gazelle and deer; burrowing animals such as mice and jack rabbits; and predators such as snakes and coyotes. The North American grasslands were once home to millions of bison, before most of them were slaughtered by humans.
Rainforest The rain forest is nearly self-watering. Plants release water into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration The moisture helps create the thick cloud cover that hangs over most rain forests. Even when not raining, these clouds keep the rain forest humid and warm. Plants in the rain forest grow very close together and contend with the constant threat of insect predators. They have adapted by making chemicals that researchers have found useful as medicines. Bio prospecting, or going into the rain forest in search of plants that can be used in foods, cosmetics, and medicines, has become big business during the past decade, and the amount that native communities are compensated for this varies from almost nothing to a share in later profits.
Tundra Tundras are among Earth's coldest, harshest biomes. Tundra ecosystems are treeless regions found in the Arctic and on the tops of mountains, where the climate is cold and windy and rainfall is scant. Tundra lands are snow-covered for much of the year, until summer brings a burst of wildflowers. Mountain goats, sheep, marmots, and birds live in mountain, or alpine, tundra and feed on the low-lying plants and insects. Hardy flora like cushion plants survive on these mountain plains by growing in rock depressions where it is warmer and they are sheltered from the wind.