Tundra translated means "frozen desert" or "frozen prairie." Little precipitation, temperatures averaging below 5 degrees Celsius, short but often rapid growing seasons, permafrost and animals such as caribou are all characteristic of the tundra biome. There are Antarctic and Arctic tundras, as well as Alpine tundras. The World Wildlife Fund, or WWF, organizes tundras by separating them into ecoregions to signify different geographical and physical properties of each individual tundra. It also specifies specific tundras within each ecoregion.
The area is home to varying species of wildlife and plants including lichen, mosses, plankton, fish and birds. This tundra reaches for 3,200 square miles, and much if its wildlife is considered vulnerable because of rapid changes in the climate. Famous tundras in this ecoregion include the Marielandia Antarctic tundra, the Maudlandia Antarctic Desert, the Southern Indian Ocean Islands tundra and the Scotia Sea Islands tundra.
This ecoregion concerns areas of the tundra biome located in New Zealand and Australia. There is only one tundra that falls into this category, the Antipodes Subantarctic Islands tundra, and it includes five island groups in the Southern Ocean. The area is usually under a thick cloud cover because of environmental conditions and might be covered by little grass, low forests and shrubs. Animal life includes many species of seals and sea birds, but there are no animals native to the area.
The Nearctic Zone encompasses the tundra of northern Canada, Greenland and Alaska. Some of this tundra falls within the Arctic Circle. Although some is rocky islands and mountaintops, the majority of the tundra in this ecoregion is low-lying prairie tundra, sparsely speckled with coniferous trees and caribou. Bears, moose, beaver and salmon can also be found here. Famous tundras from this region include the Alaska-St. Elias Range tundra, the Aleutian Islands tundra and the Arctic coastal tundra.
The tundras in the Palearctic ecoregion are located in Russia and Scandinavia. The islands of this region lie in the Chuchki Sea and the Arctic Ocean. Famous tundras here include the Wrangel Island Arctic Desert, the Bering tundra, the Kola Peninsula tundra and the Scandinavian Montone birch forest and grasslands. Tundra in this region includes Alpine tundra, which has low vegetation and lots of rock, snow fields and glaciers. Arctic fox, bears, oxen and wolves are found here.