Mexico's desert regions: beauty without limit

16/10/2020

The Sonoran desert covers large extensions of Arizona and California in the United States, as well as Sonora in Mexico; it is considered one of the hottest and largest deserts in the world. It has some regions where not a drop of water falls for four or five years, and others where rainfall does not exceed 250 mm per year.

The Chihuahuan desert is considered the largest in North America and the second most diverse worldwide. It includes the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and a small portion of Queretaro, Guanajuato, and Hidalgo, while in the United States it is made up of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Because of its size, it has 350 of the 850 known species of cactus in Mexico. Likewise, Cuatrociénegas, Coahuila, is home to the greatest diversity of endemic species on the planet.

The Oaxacan desert, located between the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Transverse Volcanic Axis, hosts the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve and the sanctuary of the green macaw. In this area, fossils belonging to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods have also been found.

Finally, the Baja California desert is made up of the Colorado Desert District and the Vizcaíno Desert District. In spite of having a dry and subtropical climate, the Pacific Ocean offers some humidity and moderates the temperature. Many vestiges of ancient civilizations are found here, such as cave paintings and arrowheads.

Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert is located in North America, covering large areas of Arizona and California in the United States, as well as the Mexican state of Sonora, from which it receives its name. It is one of the hottest and largest deserts in the world, covering an area of 311,000 km², with some regions where not a drop of water falls for four or five years and others where rainfall is no more than 250 mm per year.

This desert has a great variety of endemic flora and fauna, such as the Saharan cactus that can live up to 200 years and grow up to 15 meters slowly, one inch per year, in addition to palo blanco, palo fierro, torote and palo verde.

Among its most outstanding animals is the bighorn sheep, the mule deer, during the drought this desert seems to be sterile but as soon as it rains life reappears, the cactus blooms, and all the plants become green, which usually have very hardwood and long roots that penetrate the soil until they find a water deposit.

The Great Desert

The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest in North America and the second most diverse in the world. It is a territory shared by Mexico and the United States that extends over 630,000 km2 and is delimited by the two largest mountain systems in Mexico: the Sierra Madre Oriental and Occidental. It includes the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and a small portion of Queretaro, Guanajuato and Hidalgo, and in the United States, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

Here are 350 of the 850 species of cactus known in Mexico. The rich native diversity of this region includes 333 species of birds, 23 species of fish, and 76 species of reptiles and amphibians. It is predominantly a desert of shrubs, agaves, and grasslands. It is the only ecoregion classified for both its terrestrial and aquatic importance. Its lakes, springs, rivers, and streams are home to a wide variety of freshwater species. In Coahuila is located Cuatrociénegas, in whose pools, fed by abundant sources of subway water, inhabits the greatest diversity of endemic species on the planet, three times more than the Galapagos Islands.

Oaxacan-Poblano Desert

This area is located between the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Transverse Volcanic Axis and is characterized by its rugged relief, which has an area of 4,901.9 km2 Here is the Tehuacán - Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve which covers part of the states of Puebla and Oaxaca.

It has great floral diversity, mainly of columnar cactus in great concentrations. Here is the sanctuary of the green macaw and mammals such as deer, gray foxes, and wild cats abound, even jaguars and pumas have been documented. The climate, in general, is semi-arid, dry, and hot in summer and an average temperature of 25°C.

Its trails shelter human vestiges from 7,000 years ago of Otomanguense, Mixtec, Mexica, and Popoloca ethnic groups. Important are the fossils found in Matzitzi, San Juan Raya, Zapotitlán, and Miahuatepec, belonging to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Tehuacán was the cradle of wild corn, dated between 8,500 and 3,000 B.C.

Desert of Baja California

The Baja California Desert covers 77,700 km2 and is divided into The Colorado Desert District that covers the northeastern part of Baja California, down to Los Angeles Bay where water is extremely scarce. The Vizcaíno Desert District occupies the central part of the peninsula whose extension includes the characteristic granite plateaus of the area and the volcanic plain. It presents a transition from the chaparrals in the desert of Baja California and the forests of California.

The climate is dry and subtropical. Although the rains are scarce, the Pacific Ocean offers some humidity and moderates the temperature in comparison with the desert of Sonora. The elevation is variable, ranging from mountain ranges in the central-western part (1,000m2 - 1,500m2), the mid-elevation plains (300m2 - 600m2), and large expanses of coastal dunes.

Here you can find many vestiges of ancient civilizations such as cave paintings and arrowheads. The most characteristic species of flora are the Cirio and the Cardón and the most outstanding fauna is the Bighorn sheep and the peninsular Pronghorn.

"I can't change the desert in one day, but I can start by making an oasis" - Phil Bosmans

Source: SAGARPA