By: Kathy Dang and Neha Philip
Introduction to the Tundra
- Extremely cold climate
- Receives little precipitation
- Soil is very low in nutrients and minerals
- Bare and sometimes rocky ground
- Low biotic diversity
- Simple vegetation structure
- Short season of growth and reproduction
- In the summer when the snow and the top layer of permafrost melt, it is very soggy and the tundra is covered with marshes, lakes, bogs, and streams
Plants in the Tundra
- Plants are short and group together to resist the cold temperatures.
- They can carry out photosynthesis at low temperatures and low light intensities.
- The growing seasons are short, so most plants reproduce by budding and division rather than sexually by flowering.
- Flowering plants can produce flowers quickly in the short summer.
- Plants have developed the ability to grow under a layer of snow.
- Only plants with shallow root systems grow in the tundra because the permafrost prevents plants from sending their roots down past the active layer of soil.
Animals in the Tundra
- Animals are adapted to breed and raise young quickly in the short summer.
- Large body size and short appendages such as ears and tails are adaptations that reduce heat loss and increase resistance to the cold.
- Animals such as mammals and birds have fat for additional insulation.
- Many animals hibernate or migrate during the winter because food is not abundant.
- A physical adaptation used by the Musk Ox is the growth of two layers of fur--one short and the other long. Air is trapped in the short layer of fur and is warmed by body heat. The warmed air, trapped close to the body, acts as insulation from the cold.
- Predation- The arctic wolf, the predator, feeds on the arctic hare, the prey.
- Mutualism- The lichen is made up of algae and fungus. The algae lives in the the fungus and it provides the plant with sugars, and the fungus provides protection to the algae. Both the fungus and the algae benefits.
- Commensalism- The arctic fox follows the caribou as it digs a hole in the ground to hunt for its food, and when the caribou finishes, the arctic fox digs a deeper hole to get its food. The arctic fox gets gets its food with the help of the caribou, and the caribou is neither harmed or benefited.
- Parasitism- The liver tapeworm lives in the arctic wolf's intestine and obtains its food. The tapeworm benefits, but the arctic wolf is harmed.
- Competition- The snowy owl is in competition with the arctic fox for the same food, the arctic lemmings.
Stages of Succession
After a glacial retreat, there are just rocks left behind.
Lichen start growing on the rocks.
Rocks are broken down, soil is formed, and small plants start to grow.
- The word tundra comes from the Finnish word tunturia which means treeless land.
- The tundra biome is considered a carbon dioxide sink because it stores more carbon dioxide than it gives off.
- The tundra biome has about 400 varieties of plants but only 48 different animals.