Thursday, August 18, 2011

Arctic Biota: Amazing and Abundant

Walking on the tundra feels like walking on sponges. Wet sponges, to be exact.
We have now looked at potential research sites spanning from Council to Barrow. What has surprised me most is the density and variety of the vegetation across the region. Other than areas disturbed by man, it is hard to find bare soil. Every square inch is covered in a deep mat of actively growing plants. Since there isn't much grazing pressure at the sites we've visited, we've been treated to lush vegetation, including an abundance of wild berries and flowers.
This environment is one of abundance and deprivation. Looking at the current abundance, it is difficult to remember that for much of the year the plants and animals are just barely hanging on, waiting for next summer. That realization makes me want to tread lightly as I walk. I don't want to hinder their chance for survival.