by Carl Strang
One of the important characteristics of our climate in northeast Illinois is the relative abundance of moisture. This feature is driven home when we visit the deserts of the southwestern United States. Today I want to focus on how the relative lack of moisture there forces the plants to space themselves out.
The roots of established plants are so effective at grabbing what rain comes, that new ones cannot succeed in the spaces between. This does not mean that plant size is limited, however. There are the Joshua trees for instance.
Saguaros, likewise, can be huge.
Other plant species with smaller stature increase the local diversity.
The bare soil can increase the ease of tracking.
Plants have other adaptations allowing them to live in such places, and there are animals as well, so we’re not done with the deserts.