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.
Did You Know?
Muskox were once extinct on the Alaskan Seward Peninsula, but were reintroduced in 1970. They are now thriving on the Peninsula, even in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.