Alaskan North Slope Coastal Tundra

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of these terrestrial ecoregions: Arctic foothills tundra; Arctic coastal tundra. Lying between the foothills of the Brooks range and the Artic Ocean, the Alaskan North Slope Coastal Tundra has a harsh, northern latitude, mountainous climate. It lies on top of permanently frozen soil called permafrost.
When the surface of the tundra thaws a bit during the summer, streams and lakes emerge to keep everything moist. The vegetation cover is sparse, and largely restricted to valleys and lower slopes.

Nevertheless, this region supports numerous species of rare plants; particularly many dwarf varieties and shrubs. One of North America's largest herd of the Porcupine caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) breeds here.

Local Species
The shrubby tundra vegetation found here consists of Dwarf birch (Betula sp.), Willow (Salix spp.), Northern Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), and a nearly continuous cover of mosses on wet soils. These include Aulacomnium, and Ditrichum.

Mammal species include Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), Dall sheep (Ovis dalli), Caribou (Rangifer tarandus), Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), Red fox (Vulpes fulva), and Brown and collared lemmings (Lemmus trimucronatus and Dicrostonyx groenlandicus).

Among the bird species found in this ecoregion are Smith's longspur (Calcarius pictus), Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), Snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca), Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus), Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), and Rough-legged hawks (Buteo lagopus).

Threats
Development for oil seriously threatens the ecological integrity of this ecoregion.

Resources
Size:
230,000 sq. km (88,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tundra
Geographic Location:
Northwestern North America: Canada and the United States

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact

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