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Tundra: characteristics, flora and fauna

The climatic and geological factors of planet earth are very varied, and the presence of a certain type of landscape, climate, flora and fauna depends largely on them, being able to find from hostile regions subjected to high temperatures, such as deserts to completely opposite zones. We are talking about the tundra, do you know what it is? In AgroCorrn we tell you everything about the tundra: its characteristics, flora and fauna .

What is the tundra and its characteristics

The term tundra refers to the characteristic bioclimatic landscape of subglacial zones . The tundra is typical of polar areas located at high latitudes , generally in the northern hemisphere of the planet, and can be observed in regions such as:

  • Alaska.
  • Northern Canada.
  • Northern Antarctica.
  • Northern Europe.
  • Siberia.
  • Iceland.
  • Russia.
  • Scandinavia.
  • The southern part of Greenland.
  • The highest areas of Chile and Argentina.
  • Some subantarctic islands.

It is characterized by having a very cold climate with temperatures below 0 ° C during most of the year and can reach -70 ° C in the winter months. The precipitations are little and the winds very strong . In addition, the soil barely has nutrients, in fact, it is practically frozen, so there is little diversity of both plant and animal species .

Regarding its geology, as we have mentioned previously, it is characterized by the presence of a stable ice layer located at shallow depth called permafrost, although we can also find large frozen surfaces which melt in the summer months giving rise to swamps or bogs.

Types of tundra

The tundra can be divided into three regions :

  • The Arctic tundra : It is located in the northern hemisphere, covering much of Canada and Alaska. Within the scarce diversity of the tundra, we can consider that there is a considerable variety of plants and animals, capable of resisting low temperatures.
  • The Alpine tundra : It is located in mountainous areas, located at high altitude, so the temperatures are slightly lower, finding fewer species of plants and animals than in the Arctic tundra.
  • The Antarctic tundra : It is the least common ecosystem, found mainly on islands such as some islands of Kerguelen, the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Because they are far from the continents, they have less diversity than the Arctic and Alpine tundra, although it is possible to see seals and penguins in their surroundings.

Tundra flora

The extreme temperatures typical of the tundra climate, together with the lack of nutrients and rainfall, prevent the existence of many plant species , in fact, there are no trees in the tundra, although we can find some other low-size species scattered in the scenery.

These are generally subjected to a series of adaptations that allow their survival in such a hostile territory, growing near rocks that protect them from the wind, being able to germinate and flower quickly in the summer months and keeping small dimensions that allow them to absorb. the heat from the ground. Thus, the tundra vegetation consists mainly of mosses, lichens, small shrubs and perennial grasses. Mainly, the flora of the tundra is as follows:

  • Dwarf birch : it barely reaches 70 cm in height so it is not considered a tree, but a shrub.
  • Yagel mosses: the yagel is a typical lichen of this place, being able to live up to more than 500 years.
  • Lichen jelly : the largest lichen that we can find since it measures between 10 and 15 cm.
  • Lingonberry: it is a small plant, about 30 cm high, that presents sweet-tasting berries.
  • Black crow: as in the previous case, it presents berries with a sweet flavor. This plant is also known for its medicinal properties.

Tundra fauna

As in the case of flora, the unfavorable conditions characteristic of the tundra prevent the presence of a great diversity of species . Most of them develop in the Arctic tundra, due to the greater amount of food, as well as on the coasts or near the seas we can find some species of seals and sea lions.

Generally, the animals that remain in this biome have adapted their conditions to survive, protecting themselves with thick layers of fat under their skin and with a strong and dense coat . In addition, this is usually whitish in order to blend in with the environment and can go unnoticed in the presence of hunters and predators, such as:

  • Polar hare: it is located in countries such as Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia and the color of its fur varies depending on the season of the year, being lighter in the winter months and presenting darker tones in summer.
  • Caribou: it is a reindeer native to the tundra of the northern hemisphere, although it has adapted to living in its surroundings, being able to be found today in the subantarctic islands.
  • Stoat: it is a small carnivorous mammal, similar to a weasel that lives in the northern United States, Canada and Eurasia.
  • Arctic wolf: it is smaller in size than the gray wolf and its coat color varies depending on the season of the year. It is found in different regions of the Arctic.
  • Polar bear: it is the largest mammal that we can find in the tundra. It is mainly distributed in some regions of Canada and Alaska. In the following article we explain why the polar bear is in danger of extinction .
  • Snowy owl: also known as the snow owl. It is a large bird, whose plumage is mainly white, although females and younger species may have dark colored spots on the abdomen.
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