The Food Web of the Sonoran Desert

Instructor: Ebony Potts

Ebony has taught middle and high school physical science, life science & biology. She's also been an assistant principal and has a doctorate in educational administration.

Do you how organisms of the Sonoran desert would fit in on a food web? In this lesson, you will learn what a food web is and view an example food web containing Sonoran desert creatures.

A Bumpy Ride

You are so excited! You can't wait to ride the dune buggies that your dad has rented for the day. At first, you were really upset about having to spend the day working with your dad, taking soil samples in the middle of the desert. How boring! However, when your dad told you that you were going to go exploring the desert on dune buggies after he was done with work, you almost fell out of your chair. Wait until you tell your science teacher about this! You can't wait to take pictures and videos with your phone. You will be the only student with a hands on account for your class project. You can't wait! What types of plants and animals will you see? How will they interact? 'Sit back and buckle up,' your dad says, 'We're going into the Sonoran desert to learn about its food web!'

The Sonoran Desert

The excited explorer in the introductory paragraph is going to the Sonoran desert, a desert area that covers over 100,000 miles in Southern Arizona, California and Mexico. This is the hottest desert climate in America, but summer and winter rainy seasons ensure a diverse plant and animal life. As one of the wettest deserts in North America, the Sonoran desert receives three to 16 inches of rain per year. Even though this may seem like a lot of rain, especially for a desert, compared to other biomes, it is a harsh place to live. The arid climate and unpredictability of rainfall is part of what makes the Sonoran desert a desert.

Desert plants and animals have a wide array of adaptations that allow them to live in this unpredictable habitat. Many plants and animals have developed methods of storing fat and or water for times when food and water may not be available. Other animals have developed claws and can burrow under the sand to escape the heat. Animals also dig to escape predators and hide their eggs.

The Sonoran desert is a place like no other. With an array of interesting plant and animals, this desert is much more than tumbleweed and sand.

Typical Desert Day

Food Chains, Food Webs & the Sonoran Desert

A food chain is a linear, 1-directional visual of the feeding relationships between organisms in a specific area. In more simple terms, a food chain illustrates what organisms are eaten by other organisms in the environment. Although a food chain is a good start to understanding an ecosystem, it does not give a good overall account of the interactions between organisms in an area. The reason for this is because a food chain shows the feeding interactions of just a few organisms in a 1-directional pattern. When a diagram is constructed of multiple food chains, that shows feeding relationships in a multi-linear, multi-directional way it is called a food web. A food web gives a more encompassing view of the feeding interactions in an ecosystem.

Food webs contain some or all of the following:

  • Producers - plants
  • Herbivores - plant eaters
  • Omnivores - plant and animal eaters
  • Carnivores - animal eaters

Some examples of these types of organisms in the Sonoran desert are:

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