A Review of the Physiological Mechanisms Used to Combat Limited Water Availability in Reptiles, Mammals, Birds and Beetles Living in a Desert Environment


  • Lauren Strabley California State University, San Marcos
  • Michelle Abalos
  • Christina Reisner
  • Natasha Bozir
  • Miryam Rodriguez
  • Dennis Kolosov


Desert environments can be particularly harsh and unforgiving to their inhabitants which make it an ideal setting to study mechanisms of osmoregulation in different organisms. In this paper, we will be examining four different types of organisms that live in deserts around the world, comparing and contrasting their methods of osmoregulation. The South African Springhare (Pedetes capensis) concentrates its urine and dries out its feces in order to conserve water while the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) reabsorbs water from its bladder to rehydrate itself in times of drought. The Namib Desert Beetle (Onymacris unguicularis) collects atmospheric moisture and uses metabolic water to stay hydrated, whereas the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) concentrates urine and eliminates excess nitrogen to avoid poisoning its blood. Each of these organisms has a unique method of survival, showcasing the different mechanisms desert animals adapt in order to survive these harsh dry environments.