Grizzly bears are known as keystone species. They can be found in North America and Canada, but what biome do grizzly bears live in?
Since grizzly bears keep the population of their prey in check, they play an important role in the ecosystem. They also help keep forests healthy by aiding in the dispersion of plant seeds.
While grizzly bears once populated North America, Canada, Asia, and Alaska, they are now found in the Canadian and Alaskan Tundra biome. The grizzly bear has a unique habitat that includes valleys, meadows, forests, and even mountains.
In this article, we will take a look at the biome that grizzly bears are found in to find out more about this subspecies of the brown bear. This will also include taking a look at the features of that biome, the animals that call it their home, as well as its vegetation.
As people who have studied earth's various biomes, we will share some crucial information on the Tundra biome, which is home to a large number of grizzly bears. Here, you will find out about the Tundra's landscape, climate, plant and animal life, and much more.
The Tundra Biome
The tundra biome is a chilly, frozen region for most of the year. This biome has a brief growing season, followed by severe circumstances that require particular adaptations for plants and animals to thrive. Tundra grows in two types of climates: cold and dry.
The Arctic Tundra can be found on high-latitude land masses above the Arctic Circle—for example, in Alaska, Scandinavia, Iceland, Russia, and Canada, or in the extreme south, such as Antarctica.
Alpine Tundra is found at extremely high elevations atop mountains, where temperatures drop below freezing at night. A treeless northern region characterized by permafrost is known as Tundra, which originates from a Sami term meaning "barren plain."
Tundra Biome Climate
The Tundra of Canada is noted for its cold temperatures, absence of trees, low-growing flora, and many rock outcrops. Tundra stretches from the Mackenzie River delta to the southern parts of Hudson Bay and northeast to the Labrador Peninsula in Canada. The phrase "alpine tundra" is commonly used to describe any terrain in a hilly environment above the treeline.
Low temperatures, low precipitation levels, severe winds, and no sunshine for as many as 163 days a year in the Tundra's northern sections are all physical characteristics of the Tundra. The climate is severe as a result of these circumstances. Only 50 to 60 days per year are warm enough for plants to flourish; hence, the growing season is brief. Because few organisms can adapt to thrive in the arctic, biodiversity is limited in comparison to most other biomes. Because of the cold temperatures, the soil takes a long time to develop.
The Tundra's winters are long, dark, and bitterly cold. The snowfall is light, and the majority of the ground is covered in compacted, dense, and hard snow. High winds in some regions can result in thick, hard-packed snow drifts. The snow and layers of soil above the permafrost thaw in the summer. This results in a large network of lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands that are created and fed by this process.
Tundra Biome Plants
Many alpine tundras, as well as the majority of the Arctic tundra, have greenish-brown flora. While plants in these areas do not stay in flower for more than a few days or weeks, the blossoms are often enormous in proportion to the plant's size and are quite colorful, especially in alpine regions.
The foggy tundras along the shore create matted and grassy vistas. Rosette plants occur in rock cornices and shallow gravel beds, and algae and fungus flourish along rocky cliffs. Spongy grass and lichen heaths grow in the drier inland tundras.
Only two months of the year are considered growing seasons on the Tundra. Despite the near-constantly cold temperatures, the tundra biome supports a surprising diversity of plant life. Trees, on the other hand, are not found on the Tundra. The winds are strong here; thus, most of the plants that grow on the Tundra's surface cluster together to create a natural windbreak.
On the Tundra, there are approximately 400 different kinds of plants that bloom, but only a few are related to year-round growth. The nature of the Tundra's soil is one of the challenges with plants flourishing there. The soil beneath the ice is substantial, yet it seldom thaws more than a few inches. Only plants with the shallowest roots will be able to take hold.
Plant life is important for the survival of the various living forms that reside in this biome since it is present but not necessarily long-lasting. Many other species will feed on the plants as they die and degrade, allowing them to survive the long winter months.
Tundra Biome Animals
When Tundra replaced the cold temperate steppe in central Eurasia, lowland tundra animals appeared. During the Pleistocene Epoch, these mammals traveled west to Europe around one million years ago and then east to North America across the Bering Land Bridge. Many common Arctic creatures are circumpolar as a result of this movement.
Organisms of the northern alpine Tundra, which first appeared on the Mongolo-Tibetan Plateau, most likely originated before those of the Arctic tundra. Because physical obstacles prohibited species movement and alpine and Arctic animals were adapted to their unique settings, few alpine animals contributed directly to the development of Arctic tundra species.
The tundra biome's extreme climate and circumstances imply that just a few species can flourish there. Nonetheless, numerous creatures live on the Tundra all year, or at least for a few months of the year. The lemming's population fluctuates up and down in cycles, as do the populations of many other animal species. While the causes for these cycles are unknown, they assist in managing predator species that rely on lemmings for food.
In the arctic, birds are the most varied group of animals. Only the Common Raven, Snowy Owl, and Rock Ptarmigan survive the winter in the biome because they have the necessary adaptations. All other birds migrate to the arctic to breed and raise their young, then return to warmer areas in late summer and early autumn. Numerous waterfowl species, such as the long-tailed duck and Tundra Swan, spend the summer on land near lakes, streams, and rivers, as well as in wetlands.
Grizzly bears are large and range in color from pale tan (almost white) to dark brown. A broad shoulder hump, a dished face, and short, rounded ears distinguish them. The hump is a collection of muscles that attach to the bear's backbone and give extra digging power. Their front feet have enormous claws that help them dig for food and excavate their burrows. Female grizzly bears may reach 800 pounds in weight. Males are bigger than females, reaching up to 1700 pounds in some cases.
Grizzly bears are omnivorous opportunists. A typical grizzly bear diet in Washington and Idaho has less than 10% fish or meat, and much of the meat is carrion from winter-killed deer and elk. In the spring, grizzly bears congregate in wetlands in search of succulent plants that are simple to digest and high in nutrients. Spawning fish, insects, and wild berries are all good summer diets. Berries, plants, and ants are all significant fall meals.
Incidents between humans and grizzly bears are more common during years when natural food supplies are scarce, leading to a larger number of human-caused grizzly bear fatalities due to defense of life or property, as well as management removals of nuisance animals.
Grizzly bears are significant seed dispersers and nutrient suppliers in forest environments. Berry seeds remain undamaged and able to germinate after passing through the bear. They also come with their own mound of fresh dung to use as fertilizer.
Bears dig up the earth when they forage on tree roots, plant bulbs, or ground squirrels, enhancing species diversity and nitrogen availability in alpine habitats. Grizzlies improve the amount of nitrogen available by disturbing the soil and dispersing salmon carcasses.
About THE AUTHOR
James Parker has a Masters degree in Sustainability with a focus on land management, permaculture and regenerative agriculture. He also has experience managing sustainability projects, and is passionate about conservation and sustainability.Read More About James Parker