Difference Between Tundra and Desert

The tundra and the desert are two biomes with a decrease in the amount of precipitation. Due to the decrease in the rate of precipitation, the diversity of species in these biomes is lower compared to others, such as savanna, grasslands and chaparral. However, the number of individuals per species is often quite high.

TUNDRA  Difference Between Tundra and Desert

Tundras are found primarily in the north of the Arctic Circle and on the Arctic Peninsula in the southern hemisphere. The vegetation consists mainly of grasses, herbs and lichens.
This area faces extreme conditions of nature, where the temperature reaches -50ºC in winters. Summers are very short in this region. Due to this factor, only the top layer of the soil thaws. The deeper layers remain frozen throughout the year. A severe climate, lack of soil and nutrients make it a difficult place to survive.

The most abundant plants in the tundras are mosses and lichens, since they can survive even in soils with minimal conditions. In tundras, plant roots are broad and shallow; They serve to sustain themselves when the strong and icy winds hit them. Some higher plants like juniper have adapted and grow small and horizontally along the ground.

The animals that inhabit this area are mainly: caribou, deer, weasels, mice and wolves. The most abundant animals in these regions are: polar bears, walruses, seals and penguins. Many migratory birds visit the tundra in the summer. They choose this region to raise their young.

Tundras are very fragile biomes and the food chain in these regions is relatively simple.


Deserts are the driest areas on the planet. These are the areas that receive less than 25cm. of rain per year. Deserts have little or no vegetation. This biome also has extreme temperatures. Mercury peaks at up to 190o F in places like the Mojave Desert, while a lower limit can be set at about -4o F. The Sahara Desert in Africa and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona are among the warmer deserts, while the Gobi Desert in China and the Great Basin in the United States are examples of cold deserts.

Plants in desert areas adapt to arid climates. They have evolved to withstand perpetual drought conditions. Most desert plants have few leaves to minimize water loss through perspiration. The shoots are short and fleshy; while the roots are deep and generalized. Plants like cacti abound in the desert biome. However, the vegetation of deserts varies from place to place.

Desert animals usually live in burrows or under rocks. They are brightly colored and move fast, this allows them to blend in with their surroundings and quickly escape when in danger. These animals are most active at night and remain hidden during the day. Kangaroos, rats, snakes, camels, guinea pigs, some foxes, and lizards are often found in these regions.

Key differences between tundra and desert

  • Tundras are near the poles, while deserts are toward the equator.
  • In the tundras the temperatures are very low, while in the deserts they tend to be very high, although in some cases they can also be cold.

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