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A major terrestrial biome characterized by low rainfall. Hot deserts, such as the Sahara and Kalahari deserts of Africa, have a rainfall of less than 25 cm a year and extremely high daytime temperatures (up to 36°C). Vegetation is sparse, and desert plants are adapted to conserve water and take advantage of the rain when it falls. The perennials include xerophytic trees and shrubs (see xerophyte) and succulents, such as cacti; many succulents show crassulacean acid metabolism. Annual plants are ephemerals, lying dormant as seeds for most of the year and completing their life cycle in the brief rainy periods. Desert animals are typically nocturnal or active at dawn and dusk, thus avoiding the extreme daytime temperatures.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics.

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