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Ecosystems

Tundra biome
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Animals of the tundra

Despite the cold temperature, the tundra is inhabited by a lot of animal species. Many animals migrate to avoid the colder months. Others have developed, instead, different systems to defend themselves from the cold, through which they can survive in the tundra even during the long, cold winter night. In the tundra, animals cannot hibernate since the frozen soil cannot be dug up to make shelters or tunnels and because the warm season is too short to provide enough food to stock. Many small animals, such as the lemming, dig tunnels under the snow to look for food and to escape predators, but the ermine, a small carnivore with a nimble tapering body, can run after them even into their narrow tunnels. Arctic foxes hide stocks of frozen meat that they eat during the winter. Arctic hares take shelter under the snow, but feed above ground, thus risking to be attacked by wolves. Many of the species that stay in the tundra in winter, such as the willow capercaille, the Arctic fow, the Arctic hare and the ermine, change their colour to camouflage themselves. In summer, they have, therefore, dark and brown coats, while in winter they are snow-white. Most animals avoid the cold by migrating. In early summer, many species come back in droves from elsewhere: caribou, reindeers, grizzlies and grey wolves, for instance, come back from the boreal forests. Reindeers move in large herds; reindeer-does breed in early summer, as soon as they come back from the tundra. Grey wolves are also born in the warmer months, when they appear in the tundra as they run after large herbivores.

More info

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