• Breathtaking autumn colors in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

    Bering Land Bridge

    National Preserve Alaska


Layers of green and brown criss-cross on hills across the tundra in summertime

Late summer tundra

NPS Photo

As the primary ecosystem in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, tundra covers hundreds of thousands of acres within its boundaries. The word "tundra" refers to a treeless landscape found in cold climates. At high altitudes, it is known as "alpine tundra," and at low altitudes but higher latitudes (closer to the Arctic Circle), it is known as "arctic tundra."

Although vast and sometimes desolate, the tundra is anything but an infertile environment. During its short summer season, the tundra will be covered in a lush ground cover of grasses, Alaskan cotton, wildflowers, lichens, and mosses. It provides a home for small mammals like voles, shrews, and ground squirrels, as well as their larger predators such as raptors, foxes, wolves, wolverines, and bears. The vegetation feeds the tundra's roving herbivores, such as muskox, caribou, and reindeer, and serves as a habitat for small songbirds and their insect prey.

A view of the snow-covered tundra in winter time with granit rocks poking through in the distance under a blue sky

The tundra is transformed in the winter

NPS Photo

The arctic tundra of Bering Land Bridge is made possible by the layer of permafrost underground, as well as the seasonal freezing and thawing of the land every year. Because it has no trees, and relatively little terrain variation, it is often extremely windy with variable weather conditions year round. Although some may think this to be a difficult place to live, human populations have not only been surviving here for thousands of years, but in fact thrive off the land and the myriad of resources it provides.

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