Mostly found near Arctic coasts, the tundra is one of the coldest types of biomes. Although the land is harsh, there are still many plants and animals that call the tundra home.
Location and General Information
Most people don't live in tundras, but studying ecology helps people better understand biomes like the tundra. Even though they aren't heavily populated by humans, tundras take up a lot of space on our planet.
- There are two types of tundras, alpine and arctic.
- Tundra biomes can sometimes be found on mountaintops.
- Antarctica, North America, Northern Europe, and Northern Asia are the continents that hold most of the world's tundras.
- Tundras cover about 20 percent of Earth's land.
- Tundra means "treeless plain" in Finnish.
- The bottom layer of permafrost, or moisture that has sunk into the ground, stays frozen all the time.
- The permafrost can extend nearly 1,500 feet under the ground.
The weather conditions in tundras feature lots of snow and cold with just a hint of sunshine for a small part of the year.
- Tundras get fewer than ten inches of rain each year, less than any other biome.
- Tundra summer can be as short as 6 weeks long.
- In summer, daytime lasts for an entire 24 hours each day.
- The highest summer temperatures reach about 50 degrees Farenheit.
- Temperatures can go as low as minus 50 degrees Farenheit in winter.
- Although the temperatures are rough, the land is actually very sensitive and doesn't recover quickly from damage.
Tundra Biome Animals
Tundra animals have to adapt to wildly changing seasons and extreme cold to survive.
- Polar bears are the biggest animals living in the tundra.
- Many tundra animals hibernate during the long winters to conserve energy.
- Most animals living in the tundra are migratory, and only travel there for part of the year.
- Insects can thrive in the harsh climate too, like the artic bumblebee and even grasshoppers.
- There are almost no reptiles or amphibians in tundras.
- Chinchillas can live at elevations of 14,000 feet and are on the endangered species list.
- The kea is the only parrot living in a tundra.
Plants in the Tundras
Although tundras are known for their lack of biodiversity compared to other biomes, there are still many plants growing there.
- The tundra growing season only lasts two months.
- Most tundra plants are short and grow in groups to protect them from harsh winds.
- Thriving plants include mosses, lichens, and small shrubs.
- Although the landscape is tough, there are more than 1,700 different plants growing throughout tundras.
- Plants with wacky names include reindeer moss, cloudberry, and liverworts.
- Tire tracks and footprints left behind on the ground can stay visible for decades.
- Global warming has warmed the tundra allowing new animals to compete for food there.
- People trying to reach oil and gas are causing problems for tundra animal and plant life.
- Using alternative energy sources can help prevent global warming and the destruction of tundras.
- As permafrost thaws it releases carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas.
- Test your knowledge with a Tundra Crossword Puzzle then check your answers to see how well you did.
- Build your own virtual tundra biome by choosing the correct plants, animals, precipitation, and climate for the ecosystem.
- Watch a short documentary about exactly what a tundra is:
Survive the Harsh Ecosystem
Learning about tundras can help you understand how plants and animals are able to survive and thrive is such a harsh ecosystem. Imagine living in this kind of environment, could you survive?