What Is The Tundra Biome ?

Welcome to tundra animals and plants. Here you can find detailed facts about plants and animals that live in the tundra biome. Animal adaptations, breeding cycles, food chains, endangered status and more. We have information on Arctic foxes, snowy owls, caribou, arctic wolves and other creatures and plants from the alpine and arctic regions.

If this is your first visit you may be wondering what a "tundra biome" is and where are they located ? A tundra biome is an ecosystem that experiences cold weather and supports low growing plants and shrubs. The open, featureless landscapes found in the tundra regions have been made smooth by glacial activity during the last ice age. Large areas of tundra regions are also permanently frozen underground making life for animals of the tundra a constant battle against the elements.

Arctic Tundra Permafrost
Such frozen areas are known as permafrost and they prevent spring melt water from draining away resulting in waterlogged areas despite the low rainfall. There are three Tundra regions to be found on Earth. These include the Arctic tundra, Antarctic tundra and the alpine tundra. Arctic and Antarctic Tundra MapThe arctic tundra region can be found in the far north tip of the northern hemisphere.

These permafrost areas include vasts landscapes in the northern regions of both Canada and Russia. The soil in the arctic tundra is so frozen that plants and tress are unable to grow. In their place can be found tundra plants such as mostly heath, mosses and lichen. The harsh environment of the Arctic tundra also experiences extreme winds with speeds upwards of anywhere from 50 to about 100 hm/h or about 30-60 mph.

In late spring and early summer the plants of the Arctic tundra grow and flower very quickly. Geese and other migratory birds arrive to breed and masses of mosquitoes take to the air from their the tundra pools which causes endless annoyance for animals of the region.

Arctic Tundra Animals
Some of the more well known animals to be found in the Arctic tundra include caribou (reindeer), musk ox, arctic hare, arctic fox, snowy owl, lemmings, and polar bears. All of these animals are intricately linked in the tundra biome food web, with each animal relying each other to maintain a perfect balance in their environment. To find out more about the individual arctic animals, select the animal names from the left side bar. Each page contains detailed information about their breeding, diet, hunting, locations, endangered status and adaptations for survival.

Antarctic Tundra
Due to the harsh climate of the Arctic tundra, regions of this kind have seen little human activit. Unlike the Arctic, mainland Antarctica is isolated form the rest of the world. It is covered with ice, up to 13,200ft ( 4,000 m) thick which continues out to sea forming large ice shelves. Tundra occurs on Antarctica and on several Antarctic and Sub-Antarctica islands, including South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the Kerguelen Islands.

On the Antarctic Peninsula ( a small area of land which points out from Antarctica towards South America ) summer temperatures rise a few degrees above freezing point but in the rest of the continent average temperatures are below freezing all year round. Algae and lichens grow in bare rocks in many parts of the Antarctic coastline, but the Antarctic Peninsula is the only area of the continent where terrestrial tundra plants can survive. This is also the only region that can support land animals although these are mostly made up of springtails, mites and worms. The rest of Antarctica's land based animals consists of those that feed in the sea and come ashore to breed, such as penguins.

Alpine Tundra
Alpine Tundra biome Map
Alpine tundra regions can be found worldwide in mountain regions. Similar to Arctic and Antarctic tundra regions,the alpine tundra biome does not contain trees. Alpine tundras differ to other tundras however because their soil is generally warm enough to allow for water drainage which in turn allow for the growth of perennial grasses, sedges, and low-growing shrubs with plenty of lichens and mosses. Alpine tundra occurs at high enough altitude at any latitude throughout the world. Large regions of alpine tundra occur in the American Cordillera in North and South America, the Alps and Pyrenees of Europe, the Rift Mountains of Africa, and a large portion of the Tibetan Plateau. Because alpine tundra is located in various widely-separated regions of the Earth, there is no animal species common to all areas of alpine tundras. Some animals of the alpine tundra environments include the Kea parrot, marmot, mountain goats, chinchilla, woodland caribou, and pika.

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Take your time to explore the site and get to know more about these unique environments and the wonderful animals they support. You can choose from a list of animals on the left of the page as well as links to tundra animal activity pages for school projects. I hope this has given you some understanding of what a tundra biome is. The website is still growing so check back again for more updates, posts and pictures as we grow the collection.