Tundra animalsPosted on May 18, 2018 - Last modified: September 8, 2018
The animals of the tundra endure snow, winds and an extreme glacial climate… Do you think that you would survive in the tundra? They have already shown that they can, fully adapting to the environment that surrounds them.
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What is the tundra?
The tundra is a biome belonging to the terrestrial ecosystem and is another of the coldest biomes on Earth. Hence its name, Tundra, which comes to mean treeless plain.
It is the equivalent of a desert with the difference that here it is very cold and there is snow. Ice covers most of the terrain, soils and mountains. Rainfall is scarce and fauna that survives on the tundra is scarce, with little rainfall and high winds.
Where is the tundra located?
At the highest latitudes we find the tundra biomes in the polar regions, spanning the northern parts of the planet from Alaska to Siberia and the islands of Greenland and Iceland.
In Europe we will find the tundra in the north extending over almost the entire continent, including Russia and Scandinavia. The tundra reaches the American continent in regions such as Canada and the high areas of Argentina, Chile and in some areas of the subantarctic islands.
Types of tundra
Located in the northern hemisphere, occupying half of Canada and much of Alaska reaching the limits of the coniferous forests of the taiga.
We found a layer of subsoil that remains frozen, called permafrost. When the water from the upper surface saturates the permanent ice cap it will form bogs and ponds that provide moisture to the plants.
The plants do not have deep roots unless they can pierce the permafrost layer, however, there are several plants that can survive resisting the cold such as low shrubs, mosses, sedges, liverworts, grasses etc.
The alpine tundra is found in any of the mountains on Earth, as long as the height of the mountains is quite high where no type of tree grows anymore, since they cannot grow due to the night temperature that is below 0 ° C.
Unlike the Arctic surface, the Alpine surface is well drained and has no permafrost soil. The flora is very similar to that of the Arctic tundra, incorporating herbs such as grasses, small-leaved shrubs, heaths, and dwarf trees. The temperature of the flora takes about 180 days, approximately, to develop.
The animals that inhabit the alpine tundra are also used to their environment, as mammals have strong hair that can resist the cold, winds and snow.
The Antarctic tundra is the least common biome on Earth. They are found in Antarctic regions and subantarctic islands such as the South Georgia Islands, the Sandwich Islands, and the Kergulen Islands.
Most of the Antarctic continent is nearly frozen, but lichens and liver plants survive in some parts of the continent that inhabit exposed rocks and beaches. The animals of the Antarctic tundra are very rare since they live isolated from other continents and in extreme conditions.
On the coast we can find mammals and mammalian birds such as penguins and seals. It is also possible to find small mammals such as rabbits or cats that have been introduced by humans.
The weather in the tundra
Due to its proximity to the poles and its height from the tundra, its climate remains below zero during almost all seasons of the year. About 6 to 10 months.
In general, winters are long, dark, extremely cold and dry, it can even reach -70 ° C although the average temperature is between -12 ° C to -6 ° C and in summer it usually drops to -3 ° C . Throughout the year the ground is snowy, although in summer the temperatures drop and small snowfalls usually appear.
In areas of high mountains or peaks, in summer it reaches 10 ° C but at night it drops to several degrees below zero.
The most common tundra animals are the hare, wolves, arctic foxes, polar bears, reindeer, caribou, musk oxen and different species of birds such as the hawk. On the coast we can find various marine animals such as penguins, seals or sea lions.
We can find several species of animals that have evolved to adapt to an extreme and glacial climate. For this they are protected by large layers of fat located under the skin and with a long and dense coat. Some animals have white fur to camouflage themselves in the snow and avoid predators.
When winter comes to the tundra, animals hibernate to spend the winter, as food is scarce and the cold is unbearable. Other animals such as birds decide to migrate to warmer lands where survival is easier.
Reptiles and amphibians are a minority since they cannot withstand extreme temperatures and suffer constant immigration and emigration, therefore, the population varies continuously.