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Table 1 Examples of environmental factors which make arid environments inhospitable for animal life, and associated challenges faced by living organisms

From: A rather dry subject; investigating the study of arid-associated microbial communities

Arid environmental factor Challenges Example animal adaptations
Lack of food Extreme seasonality of food sources
Requirement for multiple different food sources, or in contrast, to specialise to a single food source
Travel longer distances to find food
Increased exposure to predators
Depressed metabolism
Switch lifestyle to nocturnal to access more different food sources - potentially also with greater water content [9]
Lack of water Dehydration
Reduced metabolic rate
Reduced ability to manage body temperature
Behavioural changes increase risk of predation i.e. sheltering to reduce water loss leading to exposure to predators
Reduce urine production and concentrate any produced [10]
Store greater amounts of water in the body [11]
Changes in activity patterns [12]
Extremes of temperature Hyperthermia
Protein denaturation
Dehydration from increased panting or sweating
Multiple organ failure
Hypothermia
Frostbite
Water in body freezing
Metabolic rate falling below survival baseline
Loss of heat from extremities
Tolerate increased temperatures through seeking shelter from the heat of the sun [13]
Tolerate freezing through production of specialised compounds and antifreeze proteins [14]
Extremes of salinity Herbivores need ability to digest salty plant matter without losing
excess water during digestion
Need to maintain water balance in face of osmotic challenges from consuming salty water
Salt glands which can excrete salt from the body depending on dietary intake and internal osmotic balance [15]
Elevated UV-C and UV-B exposure Increased risk of genetic damage from UV irradiation
of external body surfaces
Increased skin, fur or carapace pigmentation [16]