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Difference Between Tundra and Desert

Tundra vs Desert

The tundra and the desert are two biomes with a decreased amount of rainfall. Due to the decreased precipitation rate, the species diversity in these biomes is less as compared to other biomes like the savannah, grasslands, and chaparral. However, the number of individuals per species is often large.

The tundra biome is located mainly in the northern Arctic Circle and in the Arctic Peninsula in the Southern Hemisphere. The vegetation mainly comprises grasses, herbs, and lichens.
This area faces extremes of nature where the temperature reaches -50o F in the winters. Summers are very short in this region. Due to this factor, only the topmost layer of the soil is thawed. The deeper layers of soil remain frozen throughout the year which is termed as “permafrost.” A harsh climate, lack of soil and nutrients makes it a tough place to survive.

The most successful plants in the tundra vegetation are mosses and lichens. They require minimal soil to survive. In the tundra, the roots of plants are wide and shallow to sustain rapid, icy winds. Some higher plants as the Juniper and Willow have adapted themselves as dwarfs and grow horizontally along the ground.

The animals inhabiting this area mainly include: caribou, deer, lemmings, weasels, mice, and hunters such as wolves. The animals most successful in this region are: Polar bear, walruses, seals, penguins, and Arctic foxes. Many migratory birds visit the tundra in the summer. They choose this region as their breeding grounds.
The tundra is one of the most fragile biomes. The food chain in this region is relatively simple and so it is easy to get disrupted.

Deserts are the driest areas of the planet. These are the areas which receive less than 25cm. of rainfall per year. Deserts have scanty to no vegetation at all. This biome also has extremes of temperature on both sides. The mercury reaches a maximum up to 190 o F in places like the Mojave Desert while a lower limit may be set somewhere near -4 o F. The Sahara Desert in Africa and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona are instances of hot deserts while the Gobi Desert in China and the Great Basin in the United States are instances of cold deserts.

The plants in the desert area adapt themselves to the arid climate. They have evolved themselves to endure the perpetual drought conditions. Most of the plants have reduced leaves to minimize the loss of water through transpiration. The shoots are short and fleshy while the roots are deep and widespread. Succulents as cactuses are very successful inthe desert biome. However, the vegetation of deserts varies from place to place. The Joshua Trees of the Mojave Desert, Saguaro and Ocotillo cactuses of the Sonoran Desert, Sagebrush of the Great Basin are quite different from each other yet found in their typical areas.

The animal forms of the desert biome usually live in burrows or under the rocks. They are brightly colored and move fast. This allows them to camouflage themselves with the surrounding environment and escape quickly when in danger. These animals are more active during the night and remain hidden during the day. Kangaroo, rats, snakes, camels, Black-tailed Jackrabbits, different foxes, and lizards such as Gila Monsters and horned lizards are found in these regions.


1.The tundra biome is located near the poles while deserts are located more towards the equator and 30 degrees latitude both north and south.
2.Tundra regions experience very low temperatures while deserts may be hot deserts or cold deserts.
3.Mosses and lichens are successful in the tundra region while cactuses and succulents are successful in the desert regions.
4.Polar bear, walruses, deer, and lemmings are found in tundra biome while Kangaroo, camels, Black-tailed Jackrabbits, and Gila Monsters are found in deserts.

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  1. Great post. If you need to know anything more about the tundra and its animals I recommend the following tundra link :


  2. Pretty good, but mainly focused on the differences between a hot desert and a tundra. I’d like to see more of the difference between a cold desert and a tundra.

  3. a tundra is like aplain with grass and lots less rain

  4. What of difference between forest and Deserts

  5. So, which one is more biodiverse. Is it the desert since it has more plants and a more complicated food chain.

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