What is the Desert Food Chain like? - science - 2023



The desert food chain it is composed of the sequence of plants, herbivorous and carnivorous animals, by which energy and materials move within that ecosystem.

The food chain usually consists of a producer, a consumer, and a predator. In the food chain everything is a cycle: the organism at the top of the desert food chain will eventually die and return to the bottom of the chain in the form of nutrients necessary for the decomposer.

Man, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is the main predator in any environment. An example of this is the coyote.

The coyote's natural predator was once the wolf, but the wolf has been driven out of the desert by humans. Now the human occupies the place of the wolf, since the man and his vehicles are one of the main causes of the death of coyotes.

You may also be interested in the terrestrial food chain.

Levels of the desert food chain

First level: producers

Plants, or producers, capture the sun's energy and make up the first level of the chain. Energy is essential for the growth of all organisms and life processes.

Energy enters the food chain through plants, in the form of sunlight. This energy is used by plants to grow and reproduce.

In the desert, some growers include: desert cacti, grasses, and shrubs.


There are about 1,750 known species of cacti. They occur in various shapes and sizes. They live in places where there is a lot of drought, so they have adaptations to conserve water in their bodies.

Some species are succulent, with thick parts that store water. Other species have spines to prevent water loss and to protect themselves from other herbivores.

In cacti, photosynthesis takes place in the stem as they lack leaves.

Second level: herbivores

Energy begins to move through the food chain when plant tissue is consumed by animals.

In this case, we are talking about insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. Herbivores are animals that only consume plants.

Some herbivores that make up the desert food chain include the tortoise, squirrels, antelope, desert rabbits, and chacahuala.


They are large reptiles that live in arid regions; They are part of the iguana family. They are very common in the deserts of North America.

They feed on the fruits, leaves and flowers of perennial plants. It is believed that they prefer to eat the yellow flowers.


Most tortoises are herbivores. They eat grass, grasses, green leaves, flowers, and some fruits.

Third level: carnivores

After the second level, the food chain moves to the third. In this stage, the tissue of herbivorous animals is consumed by animals such as spiders, snakes, and hawks.

Animals that only consume the meat of other animals are called carnivores.


They are large feline carnivores. They consume desert rabbits, rodents, porcupines, coyotes, and insects. They usually attack their prey on the ground, locating them by their scent.


They are very common in deserts; There are thousands of species around the world, each with its different characteristics.

Some species are poisonous. All snakes are carnivorous; They feed on other snakes, small mammals, insects, and eggs.

Red tailed hawk

It is a bird that can be found in many habitats. They feed on small mammals such as hares, reptiles, amphibians, and smaller birds.

Fourth level: carnivores and scavengers

Next, the chain continues to the fourth level. Here, carnivores eat other carnivores.

An example of this is the spider wasps or pompílidos, that hunt the tarantulas; snakes that eat other snakes; the eagles that start hawks; and gray foxes that eat shrews.

Omnivores, which eat both other animals and plants, include earwigs that eat flies and flowers; the colorful lizards that feed on fruits and insects; and coyotes, who eat fruits and small animals.

Animals that feed on decaying organisms are called scavengers. In the desert there are several scavengers, such as worms that feed on dead plant tissue; or the red-headed vultures that feed on animal carcasses.


They are opportunistic omnivorous animals native to North America. Their diet consists of mice, rats, insects, amphibians, snakes, birds, and some fruits. Coyotes are adaptable predators.

Gila monster

It is a poisonous reptile that usually inhabits the deserts of Mexico and the United States; it is one of two poisonous reptiles found in North America.

It is a heavy and slow reptile that can reach 60 cm in length; they usually spend 90% of their time hiding under rocks or hiding in cactus plants.

They feed on small birds, eggs, mammals, frogs, reptiles, insects, and carrion.

Fifth level: decomposers

There are microscopic animals called decomposers. They feed on dead or decomposing animal or plant tissue.

In the desert it is difficult for many decomposers to stay alive as these organisms prefer humid places.

One of the biggest decomposers in deserts is bacteria, as they are so small that they can live in the air. Over time, these organisms break down all organic matter and turn it into carbon dioxide and water.

In this way these elements can be used by plants in photosynthesis and the cycle can continue again.

Some decomposers in the desert include beetles, millipedes, and worms.


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  2. Gila monster. Recovered from wikipedia.org.
  3. Desert producers and consumers. Recovered from study.com.
  4. Red tail hawk. Recovered from digital-desert.com.
  5. What are some producers and consumers of the desert? Recovered from reference.com
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  7. Desert food chain. Recovered from digital-desert.com.
  8. Cactus. Recovered from wikipedia.org.