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Int1 Task 2

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Tundra is the coldest of all the biomes. Tundra comes from the Finnish word tunturi, meaning treeless plain. It is noted for its frost-molded landscapes, extremely low temperatures, little precipitation, poor nutrients, and short growing seasons. Dead organic material functions as nutrient pool. The two major nutrients are nitrogen and phosphorus. Nitrogen is created by biological fixation, and phosphorus is created by precipitation. Characteristics of tundra include: 1. Extremely cold climate
2. Low biotic diversity
3. Simple vegetation structure
4. Limitation of drainage
5. Short season of growth and reproduction
6. Energy and nutrients in the form of dead organic material
7. Large population oscillations Tundra is separated into two types:

Arctic tundra

Alpine tundra Tundra along the Colville River,
Alaska.
Arctic tundra

From left: tundra near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada; tundra in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Arctic tundra is located in the northern hemisphere, encircling the north pole and extending south to the coniferous forests of the taiga. The arctic is known for its cold, desert-like conditions. The growing season ranges from 50 to 60 days. The average winter temperature is -34° C (-30° F), but the average summer temperature is 3-12° C (37-54° F) which enables this biome to sustain life. Rainfall may vary in different regions of the arctic. Yearly precipitation, including melting snow, is 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inches). Soil is formed slowly.
A layer of permanently frozen subsoil called permafrost exists, consisting mostly of gravel and finer material. When water saturates the upper surface, bogs and ponds may form, providing moisture for plants. There are no deep root systems in the vegetation of the arctic tundra, however, there are still a wide variety of plants that are able to resist the cold climate. There are about 1,700 kinds of plants in the arctic and subarctic, and these include:

• low shrubs, sedges, reindeer mosses, liverworts, and grasses
• 400 varieties of flowers
• crustose and foliose lichen

All of the plants are adapted to sweeping winds and disturbances of the soil. Plants are short and group together to resist the cold temperatures and are protected by the snow during the winter. They can carry out photosynthesis at low temperatures and low light intensities. The growing seasons are short and most plants reproduce by budding and division rather than sexually by flowering. The fauna in the arctic is also diverse:

• Herbivorous mammals: lemmings, voles, caribou, arctic hares and squirrels
• Carnivorous mammals: arctic foxes, wolves, and polar bears
• Migratory birds: ravens, snow buntings, falcons, loons, sandpipers, terns, snow birds, and various species of gulls
• Insects: mosquitoes, flies, moths, grasshoppers, blackflies and arctic bumble bees
• Fish: cod, flatfish, salmon, and trout

Animals are adapted to handle long, cold winters and to breed and raise young quickly in the summer.
Animals such as mammals and birds also have additional insulation from fat. Many animals hibernate during the winter because food is not abundant.

Another alternative is to migrate south in the winter, like birds do. Reptiles and amphibians are few or absent because of the extremely cold temperatures. Because of constant immigration and emigration, the population continually oscillates.

Alpine tundra
From left: alpine tundra in Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington; Dall Sheep in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,
Alaska. Alpine tundra is located on mountains throughout the world at high altitude where trees cannot grow. The growing season is approximately 180 days. The nighttime temperature is usually below freezing. Unlike the arctic tundra, the soil in the alpine is well drained. The plants are very similar to those of the arctic ones and include:
• tussock grasses, dwarf trees, small-leafed shrubs, and heaths Animals living in the alpine tundra are also well adapted:
• Mammals: pikas, marmots, mountain goats, sheep, elk
• Birds: grouselike birds
• Insects: springtails, beetles, grasshoppers, butterfliesSource:http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/biomes/tundra.php#arctic

Tundra Biome Facts

Covering about 10% of the surface of the earth, the earth’s tundra biome is the second most dangerous environment on the planet. Part of the reason, aside from the terrible cold, that trees cannot survive is that tundra is covered by a thick layer of ice that doesn’t melt no matter what time of year it is, called permafrost. Permafrost only allows plants with shallow root bases to grow, because the only soil that actually defrosts during part of the year is the top 4-6 inches or so. Below this depth, everything is frozen. These top few inches stay consistently moist throughout the warmer months, almost to the point of being soggy. Because of this, many lakes can be found in tundra biomes during its warmer times.

Here are a few tundra biome facts that you may find interesting:


Average summer temperature: ~54F
Average winter temperature: ~-15F


Average rainfall: 15-22 inches per year, depending on the area.


Tundra is actually a word of Finnish origin called tunturi
.
 Tundra regions, on the poles, experience summer for only a few months a year. During this time, the sun shines during all hours of the day.


Tundra ice absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide, which helps to keep the earth’s atmosphere in check. The earth’s tundra regions are actually divided into three separate regions.


Antarctic This area is made up of the continent of
Antarctica and the numerous islands found around it.


Alpine This area can be found in the mountainous regions of North America,
Asia, Europe, and even
Africa.

 Arctic
This area covers the northern parts of Russia and Canada, and is extremely vast. Even though they are classified as three different regions, they all share the same basic characteristics; yet have subtle differences at the same time. In other words, the theme is then same and the details are unique to each area. Many of these tundra biome facts are still waiting to be discovered! Despite this being a very inhospitable place to live, there are many plants and animals that have made this area their home. The basic theme that is displayed, from the largest species to the smallest, is having the ability to adapt. Plants and animals from the desert, for example, would quickly perish in this very unforgiving land. Source: http://tundrabiomefacts.com/
Tundra Biome Plants
The tundra biome is the coldest and also one of the youngest biomes in the world. Characteristics of tundra are frozen landscapes with low temperatures and little precipitation. Growing season in these areas lasts for approximately 50 days. In such conditions it is really hard for anything to grow since plants cannot sustain themselves with deep roots in these extreme and unfriendly conditions. The only source of water available for tundra biome plants are bogs and ponds. Plants that grow in this area have good resistance to cold and snow plays a large part in protecting tundra biome plants from cold, harsh winds. When it comes to reproduction of plants it isn’t done by flowering like in most parts of the world but with the budding and division instead.

When it comes to reproduction of plants it isn’t done by flowering like in most parts of the world but with the budding and division instead.

What Grows In The Tundra? An example of tundra plant which survives in these conditions is
Arctic Willow that lives close to the ground. It manages to survive in these extreme conditions because of the way it grows close to the ground and its formation keeps cold air from entering and keeps warm air within the plant.
Arctic willow is actually the only species of tree that grows in this region.
Another plant that survives in tundra are lichens which are actually a combination of algae and fungi. They grow mostly on the rocks and trees. This plant manages to live in these conditions because it doesn’t need soil in order to grow. There are many other plants that manage to survive in tundra like mosses or low shrub which adapted to the cold conditions of the tundra biome by shortening its growth period. Scientist have found more than 400 species of flowers living in the tundra area all having adapted to the sweeping winds and unfriendly soil. Despite the fact tundra isn’t the best place for any type of life, many plants have managed to change and adapt to the conditions by growing close to the ground and shortening their growing season. Even animals have adapted to this harsh environment. This just goes to show you how versatile life really is.
Source: http://tundrabiomefacts.com/tundra-biome-plants/

Tundra Biome Animals
The living conditions in the arctic tundra may be inhospitable but there are still many animals that live in this area. Temperatures in the Tundra biome are very low and the area experiences very long winters and short summers. There is very little rainfall and the moisture is mainly from the ice. Even so, there are about forty eight species of land animals that call these places home, and all are slightly modified to be able to survive in the harsh conditions. They are called Tundra Biome
Animals, specifically because they are suited to the tundra biome. Below is a list of the animals that live in the tundra biome and their adaptations to their environment.
Arctic Fox
The arctic fox is a fairly small animal with a very thick coat. It is about 12 inches in length and weighs about 6 pounds. Due to their adaptive nature, they are able to live in these conditions. It makes burrows underground to escape the severe cold temperatures. They have thick coats to minimize the amount of skin exposed to the frigid air. Since they are scavengers, they can eat anything that they find in order to survive. They find remains that polar bears have left behind and also berries, birds, insects and fish.
Caribou
Caribou is also known as the reindeer. It is the only species of deer where both the female and male develop antlers. Their bodies are adapted to the climatic conditions in that they have very large hooves to be able to move through the snow without using too much energy. The hooves allow them to have the traction they need to walk through muddy and marshy areas. They also use their hooves and antlers to look for food, which consists of lichens, flowers, mushrooms and shrubs. When food is scarce, they are able to slow down their metabolism.
Polar Bear
Polar bears appear to have a white coat but in actual fact, the hairs are translucent and also water repellent. It has a black skin that is able to absorb sunlight and retain heat. Their ears are short to minimize heat loss, and also have dens where they can live in moderate heat, since their bodies give off a lot of warmth. Polar bears have a very strong sense of smell. It is so strong; they can smell seals up to twenty miles away or three feet under ice.
Arctic Hare
Arctic air have an all white coat during the winter and then the color turns to blue-gray or gray-brown during the summer. They have large hind feet to enable them to move swiftly through the snow. Their diet includes buds, berries, twigs, mosses, woody plants and other type of vegetation found in the tundra.
Also, their claws are adapted to help them dig through the snow to find food. Snowy Owl
Snowy owls have a thick layer of feathers covering their body as well as on their feet that helps to keep them warm in the cold temperatures. They build their nests on the ground, on a higher place than the surrounding ground to have good visibility of predators and prey. Their heads have the ability to move approximately 270 degrees in both directions. This helps them find food easily as well. They feed on small rodents and rabbits are also a favorite.
However the owls are opportunistic and will feed on the eggs of some larger birds as well. This is one of the more amazing animals living in this region. Source: http://tundrabiomefacts.com/tundra-biome-animals/

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