What Are Some Plants & Animals That Live in the Arctic?

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The Arctic is often described as one of the toughest places to live on Earth. Though mostly covered in snow, this region hosts myriad plant and animal life that has adapted well to its harsh conditions. Most plants in the Arctic are small shrubs while animal life consists of both herbivores and carnivores.

Lichens

  • Lichens can survive the cold climates in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. They have no natural competitors for resources as very few plants can withstand drought and cold weather. The lichen's secret for survival is its symbiotic relationship with fungi and algae that provides nutrition to the plant. It also forms an oasis in area with less sunlight and attaches to rock surfaces and cracks. Aside from its toughness, lichens are also known for its longevity as most species live for as long as 200 years.

Caribous

  • Caribous live and travel by herds. They spend their summer in the forests where they consume a lot of grass or moss before migrating to the edge of the Arctic tundra during the winter season to feed on ground and tree lichens. They have a powerful sense of smell that enables them to dig up the plants under the snow. Caribous have adapt extremely well to the harsh Arctic climate. They have long legs and wide hooves that enable them to walk through the snow and their fur grows a few inches and changes its color from brown to beige during the winter season. The fur consists of hollow hair that helps these animals to swim across rivers and conserve body heat. Caribous give birth to their young during springtime. It must learn how to walk and run right after birth in order to run away from its natural predators such as wolves and bears.

Arctic Fox

  • The Arctic fox makes its home in burrows in the Arctic Circle. Proof of its adaptation to the Arctic climate is its thick white coat that helps it become invisible against the snow, a big advantage when the animal goes hunting or running away from predators. The thick coat and hair that runs throughout the fox's body down to its paws also helps insulate the animal from the freezing cold and also helps it better navigate the slippery snow. The Arctic fox goes hunting even at the height of the winter season since it does not hibernate. It feeds on rodents, bird's eggs, squirrels and rabbits. It stores its kill in the den for future use and when meat is not available, it resorts to eating fruits.

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  • Photo Credit Arctic Boat image by Bartez from Fotolia.com
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