About the Area
The Chihuahuan is the largest desert in North America, stretching all the way from the southwestern United States deep into the Central Mexican Highlands.
Because the ecoregion is at a high altitude (3,000 to 5,000 feet), winters and nights are cool, but summer days are extremely hot, with temperatures reaching over 38 degrees C. Very little rain falls in the area, but underground springs, small streams, and the Rio Grande River provide plants and animals with precious water.
Wildlife abounds in this desert ecoregion, home to more than 500 of the world's 1,500 species of cactus, as well as plant species such as Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), Tarbush (Flourensia cernua), Resurrection plant (Selaginella lepidophylla), Whitethorn acacia (Acacia neovernicosa), and numerous species of cacti, including several Opuntia species.
The ecoregion supports a number of grass species such as Bush muhly (Muhlenbergia porteri), Blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and the Big sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii). Amongst the bird species are rare zone-tailed hawk (Buteo albonotatus), Texas banded gecko (Coleonyx brevis), and Reticulated gecko (C. reticulatus).
Grazing, extraction of salt, gypsum, and lime, clearing of riparian vegetation, and exploitation of water resources are threats to the area. Recently introduced species, particularly grasses, compete with native species for water, space, and nutrients, and may drive some rare species to extinction.
645,000 sq. km (249,000 sq. miles)
Deserts and Xeric Shrublands
Southern region of North America, in Mexico and the United States