Plants of the Tundra
Most plants in the Tundra are lichen,mosses,and some other low shrubs or trees like the Dwarf Willow or some other birches that are less then knee-high. From the lack of lots of vegetation, some herbivores in the Tundra have a hard time finding areas with a abundance of plants to eat during the Winter. But some animals like the caribou or musk oxen can eat the lichens and other plants. Also, nearly all the Tundra's vegetation have adapted in some way to help reinforce the survival of their species. Almost all the plants that are in the Tundra biome are in the Alpines region and there are none in the most Northern parts of the biome (in the North Pole and South Pole.)
The bearberry plant is a very small evergreen that can only grow up to 10 inches off the ground. It's name actually matches its description because bears eat the 3/8" diameter berries. Also, something interesting about the plant is that the whole plant can be used in some way. Like the berries, eaten, the leaves can be used as a tea to help with kidney/bladder problems,the roots can also be used for tea, but to help constant coughing, and the stem, used to help women recover faster after childbirth. It is also kept from the cold because of its small hairs on it and also because it lays low on the ground so it doesn't get hit as much from the cold winds.
The Pasque Flower is a low-growing plant, like most in the Tundra, and grows about half a foot or less above the ground. Also, this flower isn't important in any animals diet. The Pasque also has its seeds much like the strawberry's and is on the side of its fruit that can help with some eye problems like cataracts.The Pasque flower is South Dakota's state flower and there is popular to have in gardens.
This particular Willow can grow up to 30ft. in nearly all the biomes but the Tundra. In the Tundra, it only grows a few inches and also lays low like the bearberry plant. But unlike the bearberry, the willow has white flowers that when bloomed, make a "white carpet" of the plant. This oak is mainly used in medicine and some food because of its rich Vitamin C, having 10x more then oranges. Also, because of the high vitamin C it is a favored food for Caribou and musk oxen.
The Labrador Tea is a plant that mostly grows in the Southern part of the Tundra and there can grow up to about 5 feet, but in the northern Tundra, when they are found, they stay close to the ground and uneaten by most animals because they can be poisonous if eaten, even though they are rich in Vitamin C. Yet, even though they are poisonous, bees still pollinate the flower, which helps out if people collect specimens for medical purposes. These plants help if you have a bad cough, skin problems, or even a small stomach ache, you can use the leaves to brew a tea that if made right, won't be poisonous.
One of the most common plants in the Tundra are lichen. Lichen is a decomposer made of plants and fungus working together. Lichen can live in the Tundra because they can be close to the ground and can have short roots. Lichen also grows mainly on rock and plants that are starting to decay or break down, usually from ice wedging. The lichen can make food when the temperature is down and even if there is barely any light. Lichen is eaten by reindeer and caribou during the coldest of months.
Surprisingly, there is cotton in the Tundra. It is spread from the migratory birds that had seeds stuck to them,or just blown from the wind, and spread to the Tundra or other northern biomes. Cotton is a plants that can be sewn into clothes or other cloth items and is essential to humans, mainly for clothes.
The cushion plant is a small plant that grows in tight clumps. They adapted to the Tundra environment in many ways that help their survival in the cold, harsh Tundra winds.
The Arctic Poppy is yet another flower that adapted to the Tundra climate. The poppy adapted by adding the ability of the plant moving with the sun and cupping the petals to increase the amount of sunlight going to the middle of the flower.
The Arctic Willow, or the Rock Willow, is yet another plant in the Tundra. It has a shallow root system and can be easily uprooted or have fatal root damage. Also, the Arctic Willow is a delicacy to many herbivores and insects.
Despite the name, Caribou moss is a lichen. So it can survive long periods of time without water and light, just like other lichens.
Animals in the Tundra
Ermines, arctic foxes, wolverine,lemmings, arctic wolves, tundra wolves, snowy owls, Caribou, arctic hares, musk oxen and of course, the polar bear,are all included in the Tundra biome. But, sadly this particular biome's animals are quickly dying off from the melting snow from global warming or just humans killing either from weapons or pollution. But even though the cycle is disturbed by human activities, the cycle stays in motion and each animal helps out each other by either keeping one species from overpopulating or by keeping a certain species populated.
The Arctic Fox is a quick maturing animal, and matures at about 1 year of age. It can be about a foot long and weigh about 10 lbs. It is also a scavenger that hunts for lemmings mostly,fish, and other small mammals. It actually helps clean up the Tundra by eating the remains of some animals and produces huge litters up to about 19 in only 52 days and leave the den in about 100 days.
The Lemming can have a short nap then be up and about in the night for hours. It is a herbivore and main predator is the Arctic Fox. Lemmings are mainly known for their outstanding population explosions and can go from nearly endangered to overpopulated in only 1 summer, but most either die from the Arctic Fox or from trying and failing to cross a river or stream. Also, they grow to be about half a foot with an extra 3/4 of an inch from its tail.
The Musk Ox used to be an animal found in the warmer biomes until they were almost all killed, so they moved up to the Tundra where there was less of a threat, and besides Polar Bears and Arctic Wolves, nothing hunts them. They are usually not hunted by most animals because of the huge herds that can have almost 100 Ox in them, it would be nearly impossible for a Wolf to even try and get a young Ox unless if the Wolves outnumber them from about 2/1.
The Polar bear is one of the largest mammals in the world. Its weight varies from 800lbs.-1200lbs. It is a very fast animal at top speed and can outrun caribou in a short distance. It doesn't just eat caribou but eats seabirds,seals, fish, hares(rabbits), and musk oxen. They can have a litter up to about 4 cubs in 9 months time so females can only breed every other year.
Caribou are pretty common in the Tundra. Their colors vary from grey,black,brown, and sometimes white. Also, Caribou is the only species of deer that both genders have horns, but the males have larger horns then the females.Also, the caribou will get a large group of harems, after many long fights, that can have almost 40 females! They are herbivores and mainly will eat grass in the Summer and lichen in the Winter.
Sled dogs are a hefty breed of wolves that have been domesticated and can run for 100's of miles with you and goods on a sled.They are popular and used in sled races that people use and bet on which is fastest. Sled dogs are good at working as a team to help each other survive and win.
The Arctic Owl, A.K.A. Snowy Owl is a large species that eat lemmings and other small rodents and birds like gulls or ducks. They are about 4 ft. tall and they can lay up to 15 eggs, if there is an abundance of food in the area, incubate them for about a month until they hatch.
The Gyrfalcon is the largest falcon and comes with thick plumage to help it survive in the harsh Tundra conditions. But some will fly South for the Winter because even with the thick feathers they are cold and can die. It mainly will eat smaller birds and some mammals during the Winter. They can have a large nest when in abundance, but have almost no eggs when there aren't many falcons aroundgrow up to about 4 feet or more.
The Ruddy Turnstone changes colors in the Winter. It can change from brown or black to almost a white. Also, after the Winter, at about the end of May, they go to a beach or coastline and breed with other Turnstones that came. They can lay about 4 eggs each and will incubate almost 25 days. Their diet is mainly from the sea or sometimes insects. At adult size, they can be about 10 inches in length.
The Ptarmigan is a ground-dwelling animal mainly and will depend on its camoflauge for survival, with white plumage during winter and darker colors during the summer. They will usually eat isects and other plants during the Summer. The Ptarmigan female can lay up to 9 eggs and incubate for about 25 days. It can migrate when it is only 90 days old. It can also grow to be about a foot long.