The Baja California Desert ecoregion is located within the Mexican states of Baja California Sur and Baja California Norte, on the western side of the Peninsular Ranges, in the northern and central Baja California Peninsula.
Baja California Desert Ecoregion
The Baja California Desert ecoregion is located within the Mexican states of Baja California Sur and Baja California Norte. The ecoregion occupies approximately 77,700 sq km (30,000 sq mi) on the western portion of the northern and central Baja California Peninsula.
Elevation is variable, with mountain ranges of 1,000 - 1,500 m (3,000 - 5,000 ft), plains of median elevation of 300 - 600 m (1,000 - 2,000 ft) and vast extensions of coastal dunes.
The climate is dry and mostly subtropical, with the southernmost parts being tropical. Although rainfall is low, the isolated nature of the peninsula and its proximity to the Pacific Ocean provides humidity and moderates the temperature.
Flora primarily consists of xeric shrubs along with approximately 500 recorded species of vascular plants. Many species of cacti are present.
Thick-stemmed trees and shrubs, growing on rocky volcanic soils, cover the highest parts of the mountain ranges. Dominant species are Ambrosia camphorata, Erodium cicutarium and Astragalus prorifer. Fouquieria columnaris can be also found at elevations of up to 1,200 m.
One of the largest and best preserved deserts in Mexico, the Baja California Desert is home to many endemic and endangered species. There are two federal protected areas, including El Vizcaíno, the largest protected area in Mexico.
The peninsula’s isolation is largely responsible for the high levels of endemism and diversity. Close to 500 species of plants, 4 amphibians, 43 reptiles, around 200 birds and over 50 mammals have adapted to difficult ecological conditions.
Endemic mammals include San Quintín Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys gravipes) and Baja California rock squirrel (Spermophilus atricapillus).
Bird species include the rare golden eagle (Aguila chrysaetos), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), crested caracara (Caracara plancus), osprey (Pandion haliaeutus) and burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia).