BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 452

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 452

IELTS Academic Reading Test
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 452

The Wild West Village near Tabernas

Sandwiched between the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, Gador, Filabres and Alhamilla is one of the most dramatic landscapes in Spain, the desolate Desierto de Tabernas. Tabernas desert is one of the most geologically interesting landscapes in Europe since it clearly shows the process of natural desertification and erosion.

Its features include sheer- sided gullies, carved out by the infrequent but torrential rains that only fall on a few days in the year. Another feature is piping, where water permeates through the top of a slope and emerges farther down through a hole, the water creating an underground pipe in the process. In certain places, there are so many holes that they have created a Swiss cheese effect.

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Eight million years ago, in the Miocene period, the sea covered the Tabernas desert area, reaching inland as far as the foothills of the Sierra de Los Filabres, where today a strip of fossilised coral dunes delineates the former coastline. The deposited material consisted of sand and loam, and this is what makes up the Tabernas desert today. A million years later the Sierra Alhamilla rose up, cutting off the Tabernas desert area from the ocean and creating an inland sea, where more sand, loam, clay, limestone and gypsum were deposited. At the end of the Pliocene epoch, the sea receded, leaving the seabed exposed to erosion.

Although the desert may look like it has scarce vegetation, it, in fact, harbours a fair variety of xerophyte flora accustomed to surviving in semi-arid areas, including some plants that are unique to the Desierto de Tabernas. Among these species are the attractive sea lavender. Another is the winter-flowering toadflax, which after a wet autumn, clothe the usually barren desert slopes around Tabernas in white and release their vanilla scent into the air.

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You can find it on flat land next to the Solar Platform of Almeria (a vast expanse of solar panels, installed to take advantage of the 3,000 hours of sun received in this area every year) near Tabernas, off the road north to Senes. It also grows in dry river beds.

With its annual rainfall of 240mm concentrated in no more than four days a year, only plants that have adapted to semi-arid climate can thrive here. With high levels of salinity in the soil, plants also need to be salt-resistant, like the saltwort, Salsola genistoides, commonly seen here. The desert is riddled with numerous dry riverbeds or ramblas, which provide a unique microclimate that is more humid than any other place in this otherwise parched landscape. Here you can see reeds, oleanders and tamarisks.

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It may appear as if this harsh landscape is incapable of supporting much in the way of fauna, but along the edges of the seasonal rivers, there is a wealth of vertebrates, most notably reptiles and birds. The most commonly seen reptiles are ladder snakes, spiny-footed lizards and ocellated lizards. Around the more moist areas of the dry riverbeds, you can see amphibians such as marsh frogs, natterjack toads and terrapins.

Birds of prey, including Bonelli’s eagles and peregrines, come from the nearby Sierra de Alhamilla Natural Area to use the desert as a hunting ground. The steppe region, including former areas of cereal cultivation, is one of Europe’s few refuges for trumpeter finches, a common resident of oases in the Sahara desert. They hide themselves away in the numerous rocky crevices in this Spanish desert, along with the Sierra de Alhamilla and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park. Bee-eaters make their nests in holes in the rocky slopes.

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Given the arid conditions, mammals are less common with around 20 species inhabiting the park, the most important being the Algerian hedgehog. As a North African species, this is one of only several places, concentrated in eastern Spain, where it is found in the Iberian Peninsula. Abundant rabbits, hares and dormice provide plentiful prey for the carnivores and raptors in the area.

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the passage? 

In boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE – if the statement is true according to the passage

FALSE – if the statement contradicts the passage

NOT GIVEN – if there is no information about this in the passage

14. Most westerns made in Europe are filmed in Tabernas.

15. The area is perfect for the development of alternative energy.

16. Different plants find different ways to adapt to the heat.

17. The hottest place in the desert is in the dry river beds.

18. Bonelli’s eagles live in the desert.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-H, below.

Write the correct letter A-H.

19. The plants that grow in the desert adapt to

20. The lunar type landscape has not been affected much by

21. The trumpeter finches are protected by

22. The Swiss cheese effect has been caused by

23. The floral fragrance of vanilla is produced by

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A. the rocky crevices.

B. the oases.

C. salt.

D. the winter flowering toadflax.

E. the gullies.

F. water permeating through the rocks.

G. good soil.

H. farmers.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

24. Why does the desert look surreal?

A. because it looks like the moon

B. because it has barren slopes

C. because it has a lot of vegetation

D. because it is bleached by the sun

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Choose NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

25. The rainy season only lasts for up to and so plants must adapt to a semi-arid environment.

26. The Algerian hedgehog is one example of a number of different that live there.

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BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 452

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15. TRUE

16. TRUE



19. C

20. H

21. A

22. F

23. D

24. A



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