Blog #4: Why Do Plants Differ From One Another? – Resource Availability

Why Do Plants Differ From One Another? – Resource Availability

What Resources Do Desert Plants Have Access To?

Plants that live in the desert require special skills to survive in such a hostile environment [1]. This is a resulting reason that some desert plants grow extremely long roots in the soil to find water, which are known as taproots [1]. Since rain is very sporadic and can fall at any time [1], plants have very limited access to this resource. This can come as a tough challenge because rain may not fall for days or weeks at a time in the desert. Since there are very few sources of water, animals that live in or near the desert rely on plants for most of their lives [1]. Some animals stay hydrated by drinking or eating the plants [1], while others, like the yucca moth, lay eggs in certain trees [1]. A couple of plants that thrive in the desert include the saguaro cactus, wildflowers, prickly pear cacti, and various types of tumbleweed [1]. Moreover, the main elements a desert plant needs to live healthily in a habitat include soil, water, light, and temperature [1]. Much of the soil in a desert is fast draining or sandy [1], which causes water to fall very quickly through the land. This can lead to clumps of water in the habitat’s soil [1] and cause more difficulty for the desert vegetation to access fluids. This can be required for the plant to thrive though. As an example, if a person were to grow a desert plant, they may think that watering the herb a little extra would be beneficial for the plant itself, but overwatering a cactus will most likely cause the plant to wither and die out [1]. Although not all plants may react the same way as this cactus in this example, the amount of water a desert plant should take is very important.

 

What Resources Do Forestry Plants Have Access To?

Rainforest Ecosystems have a variety of trees and, unlike deserts, receive enormous amounts of rain [3]. This can cause forestry plants to form thinner roots that absorb very little water at a time to prevent water-logging. They also support a huge amount of wildlife but are being removed at alarming rates [4]. The rainforest habitat remains at a generally warm temperature, which stays higher than 20ºC all year, and frost never forms [2]. Rainforests are one of Earth’s oldest living ecosystems and some even survive for at least 70 million years [3]. Most of the vegetation that grows in these forests are species of vines, palm trees, orchids, and ferns [2]. Three types of forests, which include temperate, tropical, and boreal, currently exist [4].

Temperate Forests

Temperate forests are commonly found across eastern North America and Eurasia. The temperatures of temperate forests vary because of the four distinct seasons. Temperate forests contain fertile soil which can support maples, oak, and birch trees. A couple of animals that live in temperate forests are deer, squirrels, and bears [4].

Tropical Forests

Tropical forests are well-known in the areas near the equator. Examples include Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America. The temperature in tropical forests commonly ranges from 20 to 31ºC. An animal that is known to habituate in tropical forests is the harpy eagle [4].

Boreal Forests

Boreal forests, also known as taiga, are one of the world’s largest biomes. They are found across Serbia, Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. Boreal forests are important for the removal and management of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Temperatures in Boreal forests are frequently below freezing. Predominant needle-leaf plant species in boreal forests include conifer, spruce, fir, and pine trees. A couple of large herbivorous animals that live in the boreal forest include moose and deer. Most birds native to boreal forests migrate away from these forests to places with warmer conditions to get away from harsh temperatures [4].

 

How Are They Different?

Desert plants have access to different resources than forestry plants do. Desert plants have barely any access to water, suffer from excessive amounts of heat all day and all night, and endure direct, non-stop, sunlight. This is very different from forestry plants as forestry plants have access to water, endure heavy loads of rainfall, and must suffer through terrifying below-freezing temperatures in winter. In these circumstances, you could describe deserts and forests as being opposites to one another. Deserts with the hot temperatures, and forests with the cooler temperatures. Plants who live in these different conditions also must adapt to their environment. For example, plants in the desert must grow roots that absorb as much water as they can to thrive as they receive very little to no rainfall each week. This is contrasting to what forestry plants must face since forestry plants grow roots that absorb as little water as possible and must be able to do so to sustain themselves through the heavy showers of rain that they face daily. All in all, plants that thrive in different areas must be able to grow and adapt depending on their environment to survive.

Citations

[1] .ca, T. (n.d.). Plants that Live in the Desert. Twinkl.ca. Retrieved May 28, 2022, from https://www.twinkl.ca/teaching-wiki/plants-that-live-in-the-desert

[2] Earth Observatory, N. A. S. A. (n.d.). Rainforest: Mission: Biomes. NASA. Retrieved May 28, 2022, from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/biome/biorainforest.php#:~:text=The%20tropical%20rainforest%20is%20a,about%20250%20ft)%20or%20more.

[3] Society, N. G. (2022). Rainforests. National Geographic Society. Retrieved May 28, 2022, from https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/rain-forests

[4] Society, N. G. (2022, May 19). Forest biome. National Geographic Society. Retrieved May 28, 2022, from https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/forest-biome

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