The Tundra

Biome Information

The tundra is frozen fairly close to the grass (permafrost). The average temperature is reliably below freezing point, usually around -28 Celsius. There is an early precipitation of 6 to 10 inches.


Threatened/ Endangered Species

  • One endangered species in the Tundra is the Polar Bear. Polar Bears are endangered mostly due to climate change. The snow in the arctic has been melting which means their habitats as well as their source of food is being destroyed. Their main prey which are seals are also depleteing in population. Polar Bears have been added to the red list of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The decrease in quantity of peary caribou, a major prey of polar bears, has caused the polar bear population to dwindle.
  • Numerous Canadian agencies, such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Northwest Territories have worked to augment the peary caribou population, therefore helping polar bears survive.
  • An organization called WWF (World Wildlife Fund) send out e-cards and use social networking to help spread the word and to encourage people to become involved in the iad of endangered species, such as Polar Bears.
Polar bear

  • Another Endangered Species is an Eskimo Curlew. It has become the rarest bird in Northern Canada and it is in question whether or not they even still exist. They used to fly acrrss North America in flocks of thousands. They are now endangered due to overhunting and loss of habitat.
  • Changes in climate changed the migratory patterns of the birds which may have lead to their demise.
  • Efforts have been started to find the curlew but they have not been spotted, leading many to believe that they may be extinct. Only when spotting begins could the problem be solved.
Eskimo Curlew

Adaptation of Organisms

  • Sedges, reindeer mosses, and lichens are all plants that have adapted to the tundra environment. The plants survive by absorbing water that saturates in bogs and ponds. There are no deep root systems in the vegetation of the arctic tundra because the roots would freeze in the deep soil.
  • All three of these plants have small root systems to catch surface water, and they absorb heat like a greenhouse.

Reindeer moss


  • Lemmings: are small reddish brown rodents that eat small vegetation on the tundra ground. They are not more that 3-5 inches in length. When Lemmings overgraze in an area, the vegetation often produces a chemical that is poisonous to Lemmings, which in turn requires them to migrate to a new grazing area. They have adapted by not hibernating in the winter because temperatures get so cold the Lemmings need a constant food source to generate body heat and stay alive.
  • Polar Bear: One of the largest in the bear family, Polar Bears can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and grow to 11 feet tall. Polar bears eat other animals local to the Tundra biome, including seals, caribou, and walruses. Since it hunts on ice, it has evolved into having fur on the bottom of its feet for traction. Their large amounts of fur have helped them adapt to the freezing cold temperatures.
  • Arctic Fox: A solitary hunter, the Arctic Fox hunts small animals and birds. It has adapted well to its native tundra environment where its fur is extra thick all around its body and it can sustain normal body heat without any extra work up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Polar bear
arctic Fox

Non-native Invasive Species

  • Canadian geese - Non-native invasive species. These animals overuse crops and damage their environments, leading some governments to champion a reduction of their population.
    • Effects within the same trophic level - Other animals, like the Cackling Goose, lose grassland to live on and eat on.
    • Effects on other trophic levels - The Canadian goose affects human beings by damaging our resources and shelters.

  • Red Fox - The population of red fox in the tundra has increased as it has been introduced by humans. It is eating lemmings and various other prey, therefore marginalizing the other predators.
    • Effects within the same trophic level -The red fox competes with the Arctic Fox for food and has caused a reduction in the Arctic Fox population
    • Effects on other trophic levels - Lemmings have been generally hurt because now they have more predators than before.

Relationships Between Organisms

external image WW99PearyCaribouM.jpg
  • Both musk ox and caribou compete to eat sedge.
  • Both humans and ringed seal hunt herring.

  • With a lack of resources in the tundra, cooperation is almost unknown there. With few fish, insects, lichen, and plants, animals have to compete to maximize their use of the resources.

  • Permafrost Layer: is a layer of soil that is permanently frozen to to extremely cold climates, there are rarely life forms that exist in this layer, and if they do they are usually dormant.
  • Short Summer Days: The decrease of sunlights limits the amount and type of producers in this ecosystem which,in turn, limits the type and quantity of consumers on all trophic levels, also.
  • Strong Winds: Since the winds are so strong, the producers in this environment must either have strong root systems, or keep low to the ground to avoid the winds. The winds have also created an even colder climate for organisms.

Human Effect On the Tundra

As far as domestic occupancy goes, not many people live in the tundra. However, mining and drilling are big business in the tundra because it has many rich minerals to offer. Oil drilling also creates pollution in the air and in the land. Most of the time planst can't even survive near the drilling because the pollution is so heavy. Also, whenever mining occurs this destroys and takes away land that belongs to the arctic animals and pollutes that air. Oil is also potentially dangerous for the Tundra because there is always a risk of an oil spill which would be a devasting blow to the biome. Oil would ruin the water and kill almost any animal that would come in contact with it. Hundreds of habitats would be ruined and recovery would be very difficult because the Tundra is such a fragile ecosystem.

Works Cited

Biomes Group of the Fall 96 Biology 1B class, . The Tundra Biome. Berkley: 2004. all. Web.
"[Biomes - Living Worlds] :: Tundra ::." Oracle. Web. 01 Nov. 2011.
S, Tye. Tundra Animals. 2002. all. Web. <>.
S, Whitney. Alpine Biome. 2002. all. Web. <>.
Tundra Biome. Sydney: Copyright Agency Limited, 2002. all. Web.
"Tundra Threats, Tundra Species - National Geographic." Environment Facts, Environment Science, Global Warming, Natural Disasters, Ecosystems, Green Living - National Geographic. National Geographic. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
Viau, Elizabeth. The Tundra. (No date or month).1999. 22 Nov. 2004<>.

external image tundra_madpai_revised.jpg external image Arctic%20Tundra.jpg