Sara Dagher
3rd Hour

BIOME: MOUNTAINS/ALPINE


Climate
  • One of the coldest biomes in the world, because of its high altitude
  • Cold and dry throughout the year
  • The avg amount of precipitation is 30 cm per year
    • o Rainfall varies: the rising air cools and loses the ability to retain moisture, causing an increase in precipitation on the side of the mountain exposed to winds
    • Summer temperatures range between 10 and 12 degrees Celcius

Five Plant Adaptations: mountaintop plants usually have adaptations which allow them so survive in very dry conditions. Water runs off mountaintops quickly, the soil holds little water, the air is dry with a constant wind.
  • Coniferous trees (ie. Pines and Firs): able to easily shed snow; their needles are able to begin the photosynthesis process quickly, as soon as the temperature exceeds the freezing point
  • Bear Grass: Grows much closer to the ground, compared to related plants from lower altitudes, keeping them out of the cold, harsh, dry wind. Because of fires caused by lightning strikes on mountains, this plant is able to thrive because of its need of periodic burns to produce strong growth
  • Polylepis Forest Trees: small leafs retain water to prevent water loss because of the unstable water supply and dry conditions. The thick bark also protects the tree from fire damage due to lightning strikes
  • Wild Potato: The thick skin allows the potatoes to retain nutrients/water, while their dark leaves are able to better-absorb sunlight. The short hairs on the leaves collect water from the clouds and insulate the leaves against sudden frost. The potato also grows closer to the ground to avoid harsh winds
  • Moss Campion: this grows low, hugging the ground for warmth. Its leaves are very small, not exposing too much of the plant to the wind/low temperatures found in this biome. Its cushion shape/texture also protects it from cold/dry winds


Five Animal Adaptations
  • Alpaca: it has very think fur to survive the cold climate of the mountain biome. Its long neck also helps it spot predators among the rocks of the mountain slopes. It also has special stomach secretions that allows it to absorb 5o% more nutrients than a sheep, allowing it to survive when there is lower-quality grass
  • Chinchilla: The colder the weather is at high altitudes, the denser the chinchilla’s fur.
  • Llama: they have unique blood that adapts well to poor oxygen in the high altitudes. They have more red blood cells than any other mammal and the hemoglobin reacts faster with oxygen. They can also travel long distances without water because of the dry climate of mountain ranges
  • Mountain Goat: they breed between November and January, allowing their offspring to be born in the spring. This is beneficial because it is easier for the offspring to survive in warmer weather, when there is more food with which the mother can make milk from
  • The Snow Leopard: this animal has the thickest fur of any cat, allowing it to stay warmer in the lower temperatures of mountain ranges. Its large and thick tail adds additional warmth to the cat when it wraps it around its body, like a blanket. The thick fur on the soles of its feet also insulate the paw against the snow in the winter. Its enlarged nasal cavities also help it to breathe better in the high altitudes.

Symbiotic Relationships
  • Food Web:
    • o Producers: Bear Grass, Wild Potato
    • o Primary Consumers: Edith’s Checkerspot Butterfly, Chinchilla, Blue Hare, Mountain Goat, Alpaca, Llama, Alpine Marmot (Prey)
    • o Secondary Consumers: Arctic Fox, Raven, Black-Tipped Jack Rabbit (Predators/Prey)
    • o Tertiary Consumers: Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, Coyote (Predators)
    • Parasitism:
      • o Ticks are the parasites and feed/live off of hosts such as the mountain goat, llama and arctic foxes. The tick sucks blood from the host and sometimes carries diseases and can be fatal if it causes infections
      • o Tapeworms are the parasites and feed/live off of hosts such as coyotes and wolves. They take away vital nutrients need by their hosts and use them for their own survival. If food is scarce, being forced to share their nutrients could be fatal to the host.
      • Commensalism:
        • o Arctic foxes follow larger predators like snow leopards so that they can scavenge the remains of the leopard’s kill
        • o The Arctic Fox also follows the caribou. The caribou removes the snow covering to get the lichens underneath the soil. The fox then hunts the mammals that have been unearthed by the caribou
        • Mutualism:
          • o The fungus helps provides protection to the green alga by retaining water and helping obtain minerals, while the green alga reduces carbon dioxide into sugars that feed the fungus
          • o The caribou eats a shrub and then spreads the seeds throughout the biome through its feces. This aids the shrub in reproduction, which is necessary to the shrub’s survival. The caribou gains nutrients from consuming the shrub