What does the tundra look like? • The best way to describe the tundra is to look at its’ name. Tunturia, the long version of tundra, is literally translated into treeless plain. Because of the low temperatures that the tundra houses its’ landscapes are covered in frost, and the soil is frozen year round, a condition known as permafrost. There is very little nutrients embedded in the soil, mostly Nitrogen and Phosphorus.
Since there are two varieties of tundra, alpine and arctic, there is a separate appearance to go with each. For example, the alpine tundra is the area above the altitude that large trees cannot grow, due to the short growing season and extreme cold at nights. It looks quite desolate in these areas except for the small trees, and shrubbery. The only animals that can survive these areas are small creatures like pikas and marmots and the larger ones, like mountain goats. The Arctic Tundra is the desolate plains located north of the Arctic Circle and the taiga. This area looks like someone took a bulldozer and took out every plant that stood over a foot tall. This is because of the fact that the ground has permafrost and no plant with large roots can grow. Small rodents, foxes, wolves, some large mammals such as elk and moose, and some other small animals are the few that can survive these temperatures.
Boundaries and Global Distribution of the Tundra!! • The Arctic tundra is found, just like it sounds, just below the Arctic Circle. It runs along the northern most fringes of North America and Eurasia. It extends as far south as the deciduous trees of the Taiga region. It starts at 70 degrees and extends as far as 55 degrees in parts of North America. As the tundra spans over 2 continents, it would not be fair to give it one specific latitude. One could say it is from approx. 7 degrees west to 64 degrees west and 15 degrees east to the International Date Line, but it would be easier to say it spans across the entire world. • Alpine tundra can be found at anyplace where there are mountains. It begins where there is such an altitude that trees can no longer survive.
Climate of the Tundra!!! • Summer and winter are the two major seasons in this biome. Spring and fall do exist, but are short periods between summer and winter. In the winter temperatures have an average of –28 degrees centigrade, but it can drop as low as –70 degrees centigrade. Night can last for weeks during a time where the sun will almost never rise. In the tundra summer however, there is an average temperature of 12 degrees centigrade, in a range of 3-16 degrees centigrade. Precipitation in the Tundra is extremely low, consisting of only 6-10 inches in a year. In the summer months, this along with water from the partially thawed ground creates ponds and marshes.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • The tundra is a cold place, and animals have to be adapted specifically to their habitat. Contrary to the common belief that nothing could possibly live in the tundra’s harsh conditions, many plants and animals live in this biome. These animals have adapted by only spending the summer in the tundra and migrating south. Other animals have simply changed to be able to live though the harsh winter. Though some of the ground is covered in permafrost plants and shrubs live sparsely on the ground.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Gyrfalcon • This is the biggest falcon. It is very similar to the peregrine falcons in its diving for prey. It is thickly feathered to keep in warm during the winter. These birds have adapted to the harsh winter (like many animals in the tundra) by raising their young in the summer.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Rock Ptarmigan • This bird spends more of its time on the ground then in the air. They feed off of whatever they can find in the summer like leaves fruits and some seeds. They migrate south for the winter and return in the spring. This bird blends into the ground to prevent itself from becoming prey for the falcon above.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Snow Bunting • This bird also feeds on whatever can be found in the tundra. Seeds remain its largest food source. Their nests unlike most birds are not in trees but between rocks. This is an adaptation due to the lack of trees in the tundra. It is white so that it is not as easy to spot against the snowy tundra.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Snowy Owl • This is one of the largest birds in the tundra, making it the top of the food chain. It hunts during the night and sleeps during the day. They have incredibly good eyesight making it easy to pick out small rodents in the snow. It too nests on the ground due to the lack of trees. It is white during the winter making it easier to camouflage. During the summer she is a more brown color making it camouflage when there is less snow.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Arctic fox • This fox feeds off of small animals on the ground. The Arctic fox is very well adapted to the tundra. It has thick fur to keep it warm. The fox’s feet are well furred as well.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Caribou • The Caribou are large herbivores that migrate from many hundred miles in winter. They migrate because there is a lack off food in the winter. Farther south they can find better feeding grounds. Some caribou stay during the winter feeding off lichens. They have simply adapted to where and when they can find their food.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Musk Ox • The Musk Ox is a very prehistoric animal. It has adapted itself to its cold habitat with a dense undercoat of fur, keeping it warm. Musk Ox live in groups, for protection. If they were attacked by predators like wolves they face outwards in a circle with their horns out with young in the middle. They eat mosses and lichens. During the winter they may actually dig through the snow to find food under the permafrost.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Norway Lemming • The lemming is a small rodent; it’s very well adapted to tundra life. They are famous for their large population explosions every three or four years. It is believed that this happens when their population drops. They feed on seeds and berries found. No there’re not little green things that commit suicide.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Polar Bear • The polar bear is the highest in the food chain in the tundra. It feeds on many larger mammals. The polar bear can easily out run a caribou in short bursts. During the summer the bear also feeds on the abundance of berries. The polar bears fur keeps it warm during the winter and acts like a wet suit when swimming.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Arctic Moss • Arctic moss has adapted to the harsh climate of the tundra. It is an aquatic plant found on the bottom of lake beds and around bogs or fens. It is eaten by many migrating birds.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Caribou Moss • This plant is actually is lichen. Lichens are actually two different organisms that have a symbiotic relationship. They are made up of fungi and algae. The threads from the lichen protect the algae, while the algae photosynthesize. It is very resistant to the cold making it a good plant for the tundra. They also can go without water(It goes dormant) for a long time also making to good for tundra, considering that the tundra is a form of desert.
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Tufted Saxifrage • This is a small perennial that is all over the southern tundra. The tufted saxifrage is low to the ground and grows in mats that keep in warm in frosts. They have a root system that stores carbohydrates
Animals and Plants of the Tundra!! • Willow • This plant also has adapted to the cold weather by growing in mats as well. If you were to see it in the tundra it would look like a rug. There are many species of the willow all around the world they vary in uses; some are even used as a kind of aspirin
Human Impact on Tundra!! • Human impact on the tundra has been significant. From petroleum production to global warming, we are slowly degrading this biome. Increased production and exploration of the area has led to the endangerment of many plants and some animals due to the significant changes to their surroundings. This results in the destruction of many animal’s habitats and nesting grounds. Global warming is also negatively affecting the tundra biome. It is slowly melting the environment and ice. This leads to the loss of food sources for animals, killing off entire species and seriously endangering others. This destruction must be stopped before it gets too severe.
Future of the Tundra!! • Unless something is done about the destruction of the biome, widespread extinction is imminent. Ice will melt, food will die, and species will follow. Programs like the Kyoto Accord provide hope for the tundra. This will diminish global warming to a reasonable amount. Less global warming means the survival of animals that live on the tundra. Less production on the tundra can also impact the survival of animals positively. This allows plant species to flourish and survive. If we are careful, we can preserve this magnificent biome.
Bibliography • http://www.cedcc.psu.edu/khanjan/best_alaska_pix/139_Sunset%20in%20the%20Tundra.JPG • http://www.desertmuseum.org/desert/habitats/tundra/tundra-intro.jpg • http://home.gci.net/~pakprotector/Tundra%20from%20the%20Air%202_05_05.jpg • http://www.livingwilderness.com/mountains/tundra.jpg • http://mbgnet.mobot.org/sets/tundra/animals/
Bibliography • http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/graphics/tundra2.jpg • http://royercenter.cwc.psu.edu/biodiversity/defined/biosphere/biome-tundra.html • http://www.sciencealberta.org/pdf/preparing_climatographs.pdf • http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/glossary/gloss5/biome/tundra.html • http://www.ulapland.fi/home/vies/ajankohtaista/kide/Kide4_2000/Forbes.htm