Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Characteristic features of tundra biome

Characteristic features of tundra biome

Characteristic features of tundra biome are:

a) Ground surface is spongy, uneven as a result of freezing and thawing. This is because the plains of tundra are covered with snow, ice and frozen soil most of the year (permafrost).
b) Extreme cold climate with temperature ranging from -30oC to -40oC in winter.
c) Highest summer temperature is only about 10o C , only for a very brief period. During this time upper 10 - 20 cm deep surface region melt forming ponds, marshes and bogs in the depressions on terrain plain
d) Annual precipitation (mostly as snow) is below 25 cm.

Vegetation in tundra is very sparse. Hence, it is also called 'arctic desert'. It exhibits very low species diversity.

a) Biome is virtually treeless and is comprised of only Lichens (Cladonia - Reindeer moss) and Mosses (Sphagnum - Peat moss) forming the main vegetation.
b) Other plants growing are sedges, heaths, grasses, dwarf birches (Betula) and dwarf willow trees (Salix).
c) Plants are mostly shallow rooted and they often possess xerophytic adaptations.
d) Bilberries, dwarf huckleberries, low flowering herbs also grow in tundra.

a) No amphibians and reptiles are found.
b) Insects like biting flies, dipteran flies (black flies), mosquitoes etc are found here.
c) Migratory birds like water fowls are seen in summer. Other birds found here are snow - owl, snow - grouse (ptarmigan) etc.
d) The caribou, musk ox, arctic hare, arctic fox, lemming, polar bear and weasels are the mammalian residents of tundra. Some of them hibernate in winter in caves and others migrate to coniferous forests.

Productivity of tundra is estimated to be 200 k cal/m2/year. Recovery from any disturbance is very slow in tundra as it is a very delicate and fragile biome.
Tundra Food Chain

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Tundra

The Tundra
Did you know that the Arctic Tundra is the world's youngest biome? Located at latitudes 55° to 70° North, the tundra is a vast and treeless land which covers about 20% of the Earth's surface, circumnavigating the North pole. It is usually very cold, and the land is pretty stark. Almost all tundras are located in the Northern Hemisphere. Small tundra-like areas do exist in Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere, but because it is much colder than the Arctic, the ground is always covered with snow and ice. Conditions are not right for a true tundra to form. Average annual temperatures are -70°F (-56°C).

Tundra comes from the Finnish word "tunturia", which means a barren land. The ground is permanently frozen 10 inches to 3 feet (25 to 100 cm) down so that trees can't grow there. The bare and sometimes rocky ground can only support low growing plants like mosses, heaths, and lichen. In the winter it is cold and dark and in the summer, when the snow and the top layer of permafrost melt, it is very soggy and the tundra is covered with marshes, lakes, bogs and streams that breed thousands of insects and attract many migrating birds.

The main seasons are winter and summer. Spring and fall are only short periods between winter and summer. The tundra is the world's coldest and driest biomes. The average annual temperature is -18° F (-28° C). During the summer the sun shines almost 24 hours a day, which is why the Arctic is also called the Land of the Midnight Sun. Summer are usually warm. Average summer temperatures range from 37° to 60°F (3° to 16°C).

The Arctic tundra is also a windy place and winds can blow between 30 to 60 miles (48 to 97 kilometers) per hour. Of the North American, Scandinavian and Russian tundras, the Scandinavian tundra is the warmest, with winter temperatures averaging 18°F (-8°C)

Only about 6 - 10 inches of precipitation (mostly snow) fall each year. Below the soil is the tundra's permafrost, a permanently frozen layer of earth. During the short summers the top layer of soil may thaw just long enough to let plants grow and reproduce. Since it can't sink into the ground, water from melting permafrost and snow forms lakes and marshes each summer.

There is barely any vegetation in the tundra, only about 1,700 different species, which isn't very much. These are mostly shrubs, sedges, mosses, lichens and grasses. Willows do grow on some parts of the tundra but only as low carpets about 3 inches (8 cm) high. Most plants grow in a dense mat of roots which has developed over thousands of years. The soil is very low in nutrients and minerals, except where animal droppings fertilize the soil. Tundra Food Chain.

Surprisingly there are animals in the tundra. There are huge herds of caribou in North America (known as reindeer in Eurasia) which feed on lichens and plants. Wolves, wolverines, arctic foxes, and polar bears are the predators of the tundra. Smaller mammals are snowshoe rabbits and lemmings. There aren't many different species of insects in the tundra, but black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes and "no-see-ums" (tiny biting midges) can make the tundra a miserable place to be in the summer. The marshy tundra is a great place for migratory birds like the harlequin duck, sandpipers and plovers.Tundra Food Chain.

The tundra is one of Earth's three major carbon dioxide sinks. A carbon dioxide sink is a biomass which takes in more carbon dioxide than it releases. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. During the short summer tundra's plants take in carbon dioxide, sunlight and water in the process of photosynthesis. Plants normally give off carbon dioxide after they die and decompose. But because of the short, cool summer and freezing winter temperatures, plants can't decompose. Remains of plants thousands of years old have been found in the tundra permafrost. In this way the tundra traps the carbon dioxide and removes it from the atmosphere. Today global warming is melting the permafrost of the tundra and every year several feet of tundra are lost. As the tundra melts, the plant mass decomposes and returns carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.Tundra Food Chain.

The tundra is a very fragile environment. The extremely cold temperatures makes it a difficult environment to survive in during the winter, and plants and animals have a hard time coping with any extra stresses and disturbances. More people moving to the tundra to work in the mines and oil rigs have created towns and more roads. Some animal's movements to traditional feeding and denning grounds have been disrupted by these obstacles. The Alaskan oil pipeline was built across a caribou migration route. Thousands of migrating birds come to the tundra because of the abundant insects. Through the food chain the pesticides reach many of the animals that live on the tundra.

Pollution from mining and drilling for oil has polluted the air, lakes and rivers. When the sun hits the ruts it causes the permafrost to melt. The tundra is not a cold and useless wasteland. It is a very fragile environment and the plants and animals that have made their home on the tundra biome have made some incredible adaptations to the long, cold winters and the short but abundant summers. They live on a precarious edge and the smallest stresses can bring about their destruction.what-is-food-chain-of-tundra.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Tundra Food Chain / Web

Tundra Food Chain

Tundra Food Web

The Tundra food chain starts with the producers. The producers of this Tundra food chain are the Purpule Saxifrage, the Arctic Willow, and some grasses and sedge. The only herbivore in the web demostrated above is the arctic hare. The hare eats the plants, but the herbivore only receives ten percent of the plants' energy.
While the Hare is alive, fleas feed off of it. The hare's predators are the Ermine, the Rough-necked Hawk, the gyrfalcon, the snow owl, humans, and the arctic wolf and fox. The hare has many predators while it is alive, and it also has predators when it dies. The species, Blow flies, and the arctic fox are scavengers who will eat at dead and decaying animals.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Alaskan Tundra Animals

Tundra Food Chain
Alaskan Tundra Animals

Alaskan Arctic Fox

  • Arctic fox
  • Also known as polar fox
  • Lives in arctic regoins

  • Genus:Lagopus
  • Species:alopex
Alaskan Tundra - Biome Wiki

  • Arctic Wolf
  • Length: Head and body, 100-150cm.
  • Height: To shoulder, 65-80cm.
  • Lifespan:7 years average.
  • Diet: Arctic hares, caribou, musk ox

  • Genus:Canis
  • Species: lupus arctos
Alaskan Tundra - Biome Wiki

  • Arctic Hare
  • Long hair for the cold
  • Is longer than the normal Hare
  • Genus:Lepus
  • Species: acrticus

Alaskan Tundra - Biome Wiki

  • Blow fly
  • Length: 6 to 14 mm, average
  • Life Span: 2 to 8 weeks
  • Diet: Adult blow flies are attracted to nectar, carrion, garbage and other refuse, soggy, bloody or soiled hair, fur, or wool

  • Genus: Phormia
  • Species:regina
Alaskan Tundra - Biome Wiki

  • Gyrfalcon
  • Largest true falcon in the world
  • eat mainly ptarmigan and grouse

  • Genus:Falco
  • Species:rusticolus
Tundra Food Chain

Alaskan Tundra Plants

Tundra Food Chain
Alaskan Tundra Plants

  • Saxifrage

  • Genus:Saxifraga
  • Species:caespitosa

  • Saxifrage is a small perennial that grow in thick mats on the tundra.

Tundra Rose
  • Tundra Rose

  • Genus:Dasiphora
  • Species:floribunda

  • Shrubby cinquefoil is a much-branched, deciduous shrub with a spreading to erect habit. It may attain a height of 10 to 160 cm.

Alaskan Tundra - Biome Wiki
  • Pasque Flower

  • Genus: Anemone
    Species: patens
  • Pasque flower is a pretty tundra plant. It is a member of the Ranunculaceae family, which is Latin for little frog. The name was given to the family because a group of plants in this family grow where frogs live.

Alaskan Tundra - Biome Wiki
  • Tundra Moss

  • Genus: Calliergon

  • The Calliergon giganteum grows in the arctic tundra which is a harsh cold environment in the Northern Hemisphere within the arctic circle.

Alaskan Tundra - Biome Wiki
  • Diamond-leaf Willow

  • Genus: Salix
    Species: pulcha
  • The twigs on a willow are soft, slender, and they bend easily. A willow has thin branches. The leaves are narrow and grow alternately on the branch. Some leaves have serrated edges.
  • Tundra Food Chain

Friday, 16 October 2009


There are mainly two types of food chains operating in nature.

a) Grazing food chain
b) Detritus food chain.

Grazing food chain is generally seen in ecosystems such as grassland, pond or lake where a substantial part of the net primary production is grazed on by herbivores (cattle and rodents). Usually upto 50% of the NPP is grazed on by these animals in their respective ecosystems and the remaining 50% goes to the decomposer organisms as dead organic matter. Thus, in these ecosystems, the food chain is herbivore based.
Tundra Food Chain


All living organisms of the biosphere are related to each other by a common factor, i.e., food, which contains not only energy but also materials in usable forms that are needed by the organisms.
We know that green plants manufacture their own food with the help of sun's energy and from common elements derived from air, water and soil. These green plants are, therefore, called the autotrophs. The autotrophs are the chief source of potential energy for the living world. Hence they are called the producers. When the producers are eaten by some animal, the energy of the producers is passed on to the animal which is called consumer. The primary consumer is eaten by another animal which is called the secondary consumer which may be eaten by a tertiary consumer and so on. This pathway of energy transfer from one organism to another constitutes a food chain. For example, in a forest community, grass is eaten by a deer which, in turn, is eaten by a lion. This flow of energy from grass (producer) to deer (primary consumer) and then to lion (secondary consumer) is called a food chain.

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