ABSTRACT

Characteristics of the Desert The animals and plants of deserts have long elicited the attention of researchers. In recent years, the number of desert studies has dramatically risen, chiefly because of the necessity to better manage arid lands. However, the biological literature is mainly statistical, encompassing productivity figures from various desert biogeocenoses, ways to increase their yields and the morphophysiological adaptations that enable the animals and plants to survive under such harsh conditions. The evolutionary approach, as a rule, is totally absent. And yet it is only this approach that makes it possible to understand why those and no other adaptations, or why any particular and no other biogeocenotic structures, can occur. The study of the ways various organisms become adapted to life in deserts also can give us extremely rich material for learning how to measure phylogenesis in general. It is no coincidence that aquatic organisms (sharks, ichthyosaurs, whales, skates and flounders) and animals from arid lands (hamsters, kangaroo rats, gophers, mole rats and sand rats) are classical examples of convergence.