The Tundra Biome

Karina Moody


Tundra is the coldest of all biomes. Tundra comes from the Finnish word tunturia meaning treeless, pain. They consist of extremely low temperatures, frost molded landscapes, little precipitation, poor nutrients and poor growing seasons. There are two different types of tundras, Arctic & Alpine Tundras.


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This type of tundra is located in the northern hemisphere. Arctic Tundras are known for its cold, desert-like conditions. The growing season is a short 50-60 days a year. The average Winter temperature is -30° F as for Summer where the average temperature is 37-54° F. Soil is formed slowly. A layer of permanently frozen subsoil called permafrost exists, consisting mostly of gravel and finer material.

There are about 1,700 kinds of plants in the arctic: low shrubs, sedges, reindeer mosses, liverworts, and grasses, 400 varieties of flowers, crustose and foliose lichen. Plants are short and group together to resist the cold temperatures and are protected by the snow during the winter.

The animals in the arctic are also diverse. They consist of lemmings, voles, caribou, arctic hares, squirrels, arctic foxes, wolves, polar bears, ravens, snow buntings, falcons, loons, ravens, sandpipers, terns, snow birds, various species of gulls, mosquitoes, flies, moths, grasshoppers, blackflies, arctic bumble bees, cod, flatfish, salmon, and trout. Animals are adapted to handle long, cold winters and to breed and raise young quickly in the summer.

Alpine Tundra

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Alpine tundra is located on mountains high up where the trees do not grow. The growing season is about 180 days. Unlike the arctic tundra, the soil in the alpine is well drained. The plants are very similar to the ones in the arctic.

Animals in the alpine tundra are also well adapted. These animals are pikas, marmots, mountain goats, sheep, elk, grouselike birds, springtails, beetles, grasshoppers and butterflies.