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Biome: Tundra

  • By: Torben R. Christensen
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The word tundra originates from the Finnish tunturi, which means “completely treeless heights.” This is how the word is applied broadly all over the world to areas of higher altitude than the tree line. However, the geographically largest and most significant tundra areas are those north of the latitudinal tree line in Eurasia and North America. These tundra areas are mainly situated in lowlands.

The tundra as a biome is relatively young, having developed in the early Pleistocene. However, the characteristic floras of tundras developed earlier, probably during the Miocene-Pliocene, in the highlands of Central Asia and in the Rocky Mountains of North America. In the same period (late Tertiary), present tundra areas were covered by various types of mixed and coniferous forests, now associated ...

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