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-Life Science

Tundra Abiotic and Biotic Factors

Tundra biomes are one of the most inhospitable climates on Earth. These areas of our planet have very short summer, and exceptionally long winters. Cold winds and below freezing temperatures are very common occurrences here. Some of the biotic and abiotic factors found in the tundra are found only in these areas of the planet.

Tundra Zones of the Earth
  • While the majority of the tundra areas are located near the north pole, there are also tundra biomes in the mountains and highlands of other regions all around our planet.
  • About 3% of the land mass on Earth is considered a tundra.
  • Areas that classify as a tundra exist mostly north of the 70°N latitude line.

Traits of a tundra

As you might imagine based on their location, life in the tundra can be quite cold. You are right, in the tundra you will find a range in temperature throughout the year, but can have average monthly temperatures of -27° Celsius (-17° Fahrenheit)! The summer months however, are less brutal, toping out at average monthly temperatures of 10°-14° Celsius (50°-58° Fahrenheit). Don’t plan on sun bathing in the tundra, bring the warm winter gear.

One unique factors of tundra biomes is the low precipitation rate. Despite being very cold, they do not get a lot of rain or snow. Most tundra areas will see less than 300mm (12 inches) of precipitation each year. To give you some perspective, New York gets about 73 inches of precipitation in a year, and Los Angeles gets about 22 inches per year. This can present challenges for life in the tundra, as they have to work hard for their water source.

In a tundra biome you will often find large areas of exposed rock, or bare ground. Small plants, mosses, lichens, and shrubs will spot the landscape. A distinguishing characteristic of a tundra is that the soil is permanently frozen, also know as permafrost. This makes it difficult for large vegetation to take root and survive. Tundra ecosystems will have very few tees and larger plants, as only plants with shallow root structures can survive in the harsh conditions.

biotic factors in the tundra

Despite the harsh conditions however there are many species that thrive in the tundra. Any living thing, be it plant, animal, fungi, bacteria, or protist is considered a BIOTIC FACTOR. Biotic factors are simply living things that shape their environment (as all living things do). The tundra is going to have greatly different biotic factors than a rainforest or desert. While a cactus and woodpecker may greatly shape the desert biome, in the tundra we see very different forms of life.

Image of caribou looking out over the tundra. A caribou is a biotic factor of the tundra.
Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

What are 10 biotic factors in the tundra?

You only want ten? Well don’t worry there are plenty to be had. Check out the list below. You can see that there is a wide variety of life that live in the tundra biomes around the world.

Biotic factors are parts of a biome that are alive. This will include any living plants, animals, fungi, and even the little tiny bacteria that we forget are there. In every ecosystem there are producers, consumers and decomposers that all play vital roles. If they don’t stay in balance with one another, the results could be disasteroous. This is one of the many reasons that humans must tread carefully when entering an ecosystem. Us humans have a habit of throwing things out of wack. They must n the tundra biomes around the world, there are many living things despite its harsh climate. Take a look below at the wide array of life you can find.

  • Low Shrubs
  • Mosses
  • Cushion Plants
  • Liverworts
  • Algae
  • Lichen
  • Cottongrass
  • Cranberry Plants
  • Arctic Hare
  • Polar Bear
  • Grey Wolf
  • Arctic Fox
  • Caribou
  • Yak
  • Mountain Goat
  • Snowy Owl
  • Reindeer
  • Ground Squirrels
  • Marmot
  • Lemming
  • Kea Parrot
  • Pika
  • Mosquito
  • Black Fly
Image of fungus and lichen growing in  the tundra. Lichen and fungi are biotic factors of the tundra.
Photo by Julia Barrantes on Pexels.com

What are the ABIOTIC factors in the tundra?

Abiotic factors are the pieces and parts of an ecosystem that are not living. Think about all the other stuff besides the living things. This will include traits of the area, such a temperature and humidity levels, but also objects that are not alive. Here are some examples of abiotic factor in tundra ecosystems.

  • Soil
  • Rocks
  • Snow
  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Ice
  • Temperature
  • Precipitation
  • Wind

Do you ever think about how the types of rocks might change a biome? Rocks have different types of minerals and weather differently depending on what they are made of and how they are formed. The traits of the ground will determine what type of plants can take root and what type of animals will be able to thrive in that area. As you can see, abiotic factors can make big changes in an environment.

Now that you know about these abiotic factors. Think about how they effect the biotic factors in the tundra ecosystem. The combination of the biotic an abiotic factors of any biome, work together to make up its characteristics. For example, you would never find a polar bear in the desert, and you most certainly will not find a prickly pear cactus in the tundra.

Image of tundra landscape. Snow and rocks cover the ground. These are both abiotic factors of the tundra.

Photo by Greg Garnhart on UnSplash.com

I hope you can see that there is a lot to learn about each of the the world’s biomes, but the tundra is one of the most unique. While not often a place with many humans around, the tundra can support a unique array of life, including plants and animals. Learning about the biomes of the world can be a lot of fun. As you can see, each biome has both biotic (living) and some abiotic (non-living) factors that make up its unique characteristics.

tundra Biotic and Abiotic Factors

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