Desert scrublands comprise the lower to mid-elevation portions of four different ecosystems including the Chihuahuan, Great Basin, Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. Together the area inside their outer boundaries includes over 8% of the surface area of the United States. Despite significant differences in the flora and fauna of these bioregions they all share the common trait of being arid shrub-steppe ecosystems, receiving, on average, less than 254 mm of rain per year. The austere nature of these landscapes belies their significant biodiversity, the amazing behavioral and physiological adaptations of the biota, and the fragility of the ecosystems to human disturbances. For example, the Mojave Desert alone has at least 250 species of ephemeral plants, mostly winter annuals, and up to 90% are endemic.