Chihuahuan-Tehuacán Deserts

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of these terrestrial ecoregions: Meseta Central matorral; Tehuacán Valley matorral; Chihuahuan desert.

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.

Local Species
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).

Animal species include the Jaguar (Felis onca), collared Peccary or Javelina (Pecari tajacu), Desert cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni), Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), Desert mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Greater earless lizard (Cophosaurus texanus), Mexican blackheaded snake (Tantilla atriceps), Trans-Pecos ratsnake (Elaphe subocularis), and Nelson's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nelsoni).

Threats
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.

Resources

Size:
645,000 sq. km (249,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Deserts and Xeric Shrublands

Geographic Location:
Southern region of North America, in Mexico and the United States

Conservation Status:
Vulnerable

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