Tundra, a term derived from the Finnish word tunturia and/or the Saami word, the genitive of tundar, both meaning “treeless plain,” is the coldest and least species-rich ecosystem on earth. It is found both in areas of high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic tundra) and altitude (alpine tundra).

Arctic tundra technically refers to the areas of high latitude permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere. This includes large areas of Russia and Canada. Permafrost is permanently frozen ground, an ecosystem characteristic that—in addition to low water and temperatures—contributes to the high stress of plant and animal survival. The predominant flora is mosses, heath, and lichen. Mammals include wolf, fox, musk ox, polar bear, rabbit, vole, and caribou. In many of these permafrost areas the winter low temperatures dip to ...

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