The Arctic Tundra Biome, Geographical Background, Natural Vegetation and Animal Life, Human Response Part 3

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The Arctic Tundra Biome

Geographical Background: This is essentially a cold desert in which atmospheric moisture is scarce and summers are so short and cool that trees are unable to survive. This biome is distributed along the northern edge of the northern hemisphere. It covers parts of Alaska, northern parts of Canada, the coastal areas of Greenland, and the Arctic coastal regions of Russia and Northern Siberia.

The Arctic Tundra Biome

The Arctic Tundra Biome

The Arctic Tundra Biome

Natural Vegetation and Animal Life: The plant cover consists of a considerable mixture of species. Many of these species are dwarf form such as grasses, mosses, lichens, flowering herbs, and a scattering of low shrubs. These plants often occur in dense, ground hugging arrangements. The plants complete their annual cycle hastily during the brief summers, when the ground is often moist and waterlogged because of inadequate surface drainage.

The animal of this biome may be categorized as resident and migrant. Resident animals like ptarmigan can adjust themselves to the changing climatic conditions. The migratory animals, in contrast, begin migrating to the warmer places in the very beginning of winter. Examples are birds such as water fowl, ducks, swans, geese etc. which leave their places of origin in the first half of autumn and return in the following spring or early summer. Besides, the rein deer, wolves, foxes, musk-ox, artic hare, seal and lemmings also live in this region. Productivity in tundra biome is exceedingly low.

The reasons for low productivity are minimum sunlight and insolation, absence or scarcity of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous in the soils, poorly developed soils, scarcity of moisture in the soils, permanently frozen ground, and very short growing period.

Human Response: The tribes of Samoyeds, Lapps, Finns, and Yakuts in Eurasian Tundra and Eskimos of Canada and Alaska are some of the original inhabitants of this place and lead nomadic life for centuries. These tribes are now leading permanent or seminomadic life. They have adapted to new technologies. For example, deadly rifles have replaced the traditional and outdated harpoons. Thus, the modern Eskimos equipped with modern technologies are now in a position to damage the tundra ecosystem in the same way as is done by already technologically advanced man in other biomes. The recent discoveries of minerals such as gold and mineral oil in Alaska, iron ore in Labrador, nickel in Siberia have encouraged the growth of mining settlements and development of transport facilities. But mining activities have also led to pollution and other environmental problem to this fragile ecosystem.

In Brief, It Can Be Said That:

Biome may be defined as a large natural ecosystem wherein we study the total assemblage of plant and animal communities. Here all the biota has minimum common characteristics and all the biomes are characterized by more or less uniform environmental condition. There are various factors which affect the size, location and character of a biome. These factors are length of daylight and darkness, mean temperature, length of growing season, precipitation, wind flow, soil types, slope, drainage etc. There are two major bases of classifying biome, on the basis of climate with special emphasis on availability of moisture and on the basis of climate and vegetation.

The evergreen rainforest biome extends up to 10o latitude on both sides of the equator. This area experiences high temperature and heavy rainfall throughout the year. The combination of heat and moisture make this biome as perfect environment for a great variety of plants and animal species. Important plants found in this area are ebony, Mahogany, rosewood, sandal wood etc. Along with plants, there are various types of orchids, term, mosses, herbs are also found at the ground level. These plants are mostly hard-wood trees. Like vegetation, evergreen rainforest is inhabited by numerous birds, mammals, insects etc. both in land as well as in water. The productivity of the tropical rainforest biome is highest of all biome types of the world. Today, human being has also started to damage this biologically rich eco-system through various developmental activities. Due to this, various ecological as well environmental problems have emerged like greenhouse effect and global warming.

The temperate grasslands are located in two typical locations-interior of the continents in northern hemisphere and margins of the continent in the southern hemisphere. Both the locations receive scanty rainfall. These grasslands are known by different names in different parts of the world-steppes in Eurasia, prairies in North America, downs in Australia, and veldt in South Africa. The natural vegetation of these regions comprises treeless grasslands. These grasslands are inhabited by antelopes, wild asses, horses, wolves, kangaroos, emu and dingo or wild dog. No other biome has ever undergone so much change than the temperate grassland biomes. This has happened due to various human activities.

The Arctic Tundra Biome is essentially a cold desert in which atmospheric moisture is scarce and summers are short and cool. This biome is distributed along the northern edge of the northern hemisphere. The plant cover consists of a considerable mixture of species. Many of the species are dwarf forms such as grasses, mosses, lichens, flowering herbs, and a scattering of low shrubs. Important species of animals are reindeer, wolves, foxes, musk-ox, Arctic-hare, seal and lemmings. The harsh environment of this biome supports less population. The tribes of Samoyeds, Lapps, Finns and Yakuts in Eurasia, Eskimos of Canada and Alaska are the original inhabitants of this biome and lead nomadic life for centuries. The recent discoveries of minerals have encouraged the growth of mining settlements. But mining activities have also led to pollution and other environmental problems to this fragile ecosystem.

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