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What Kind Of Ecosystem Is A Tundra?

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Tundra are areas of land on the borders of the polar regions that are covered with low shrubs and hardy plants such as lichens and mosses.

The Arctic tundra is found in countries such as Alaska, Canada, and Siberia. The ground here is often permanently frozen and during the short summer the surface ice melts. The water cannot drain away because of the permafrost, the frozen soil underneath.

Tundra ecosystems are also home to several types of animal including caribou, musk oxen and wolves. Musk oxen are herbivores. Although the tundra only offers a limited diet, these animals manage to grow to an enormous size. An adult male can weigh as much as 400 kilograms. They have very little shelter from the harsh Arctic blizzards in winter but survive because they have a thick layer of matted woolly fur.

Musk oxen are hunted by humans for food and are also attacked by wolves and their numbers fell dramatically in the 1900s. Now, conservation and domestication has re-introduced the musk ox into the tundra in Siberia, Alaska and Norway. Musk ox get their name because they have a gland just below their eyes that produces a strong musky scent.

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