I am researching the Tundra Biome for my year 8 science project. Can you tell me how the polar bear and the arctic fox contribute to the balance of the ecosystem and what would happen if they died?

Regards

Harlan Rice

Robert Harris

Hi Harlan,The Polar Bear is currently the top preditor above the Brooks Range in the Arctic and feeds primarily on seals.  Polar Bears will also scavenge other dead sea animals such as whales.  The Arctic fox is primarily a scavenger and will also feed on bird eggs, nestlings, voles and ground squirrels.
It is hard to predict what will happen if the Arctic continues to warm.  Grizzly Bears and red foxes have been seen duing the summer north of the Brooks range.  These are potential competitors for the Polar Bear and Arctic Fox.  If the ice breaks up earlier it is possible that more Polar Bears and Arctic foxes will be found on land instead of the ice.  There may be a shift from seals to caribou.  Polar Bears could also use the barrier islands that are along the coast looking for seals there.
Best wishes,
Robert Harris

Cassey (not verified)

Hello that was some good things to know 
            thank you!!!!!!!!!!

Guest (not verified)

basically how are plants and animals importat to the ecosystem?? how can i help them from beng extinct??please help meeeee!!!!!!
krissy

Robert Harris

Hi Krissy,
In the Arctic Ocean small phytoplankton act like plants and do photosynthesis capturing sunlight energy.  These phytoplankton are eaten by small zooplankton (krill like critters) which are eaten by fish.  The fish are eaten by birds, and seals.  Sometimes the seals are eaten by Polar Bears.  The Arctic Foxes clean up what ever is left.
What you can do to help them is limit your energy use.  Use your bicycle or the bus instead of a car, when you can.  Turn off lights and computers when they are not in use and learn other ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Becki (not verified)

I have a project to do on the "go green" movement and I know that the Greenland Shark eats a specific seal and this seal help the enviorment or ecosystem, but I was wondering what the name of that seal was?
Thank you 

Robert Harris

Hi Becki,
I am sorry that it took so long to answer your question.  I just noticed it today!
 I did a little research and this is what I found out.
 
“Among the food items that have been found in Greenland Shark stomachs are seaweeds, jellyfishes, amphipods, snails, brittlestars, egg cases from the Arctic Skate (Ambryraja hyperborea), Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus), Capelin (Mallotus villosus), Rosy Soldierfish (Hoplostethus mediteraneus), sculpins, Greenland Halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides), European Ling (Molva molva), Arctic Cod (Boreogadus saida), Atlantic Wolffish (Anarhichas lupus), Arctic Lumpsucker (Cyclopteropsis macalpini), other Greenland Sharks, seabirds, Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida), Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) and Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) blubber, an entire Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) minus its antlers, and horses that apparently fell through thin ice and drowned."
 
 http://www.elasmo-research.org/education/ecology/polar-greenland.htm

Hope that helps.

Sincerely,

Robert Harris
 

Guest (not verified)

Animals Role In The Ecosystemi want to know about animals and what they do to help the ecosystem.

Robert Harris

Hi,Out in the deep open ocean where we were located the spring phytoplankton (single celled plant-like algae:  usually diatoms and dinoflagelletes) bloom starts later than on the contenental shelf closer to the land.  The sea ice takes longer to melt off and the wind is damped down so that deep water nutrients (natural fertilizer) take longer to mix into the upper layers of the ocean.  Sone diatoms actually attach to and use the bottom of the sea ice to get a head start.
Once the phytoplankton get growing, small zooplankton (such as euphasids and copepods) feed on them.  The fish start to feed on the zooplankton.  Seabirds, and larger fish feed on the smaller fish.  Then seals feed on the larger fish and polar bears feed on the seals.
 
Some of the interesting Arctic whales also are involved in the food web.
Bowhead Whales which filter the sea for zooplankton with their baleen plates also feed on the zooplankton.
"Narwhals feed primarily in the cold and darkness of winter and can dive down in excess of 1,500 metres (5,000ft) in search of its favourite prey – the Greenland halibut – with a second-order preference for cod and squid."
"Beluga whales eat a wide variety of benthic and pelagic prey such as worms, crustaceans, squid, octopus and small fish in shallow and coastal waters although diets vary with season, location, age and body size. Arctic species feed mainly on shallow water fish. An adult beluga will consume approximately 55 lbs (25 kg) of food in a day."  http://www.uvm.edu/whale/BelugaSocial.html
I hope this information helps.
 Sincerely,
Robert Harris

Guest (not verified)

what is the polpar bear's role in the ecosystem it leave in?

Robert Harris

Hi,
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is the top carnivore in the Arctic.
Polar bears eat Seals, Walrus, and even attack Beluga whales. Polar Bears
will also feed of dead animals on the shore like bowhead whales. Male
Polar Bears may be 10 feet tall and weigh 1400 lbs. Polar bears have
hollow hairs that help capture heat from the sunlight like a greenhouse
helping to keep the bear warm. Polar Bears hunt on sea ice that forms
along the shore out over the continental shelf. This is where fish and
seals are plentiful. As the seasonal ice gets thinner and melts off
earlier in the season, increasingly Polar Bears are found on land along
the Arctic shore.
Sincerely,
Mr. Harris

John (not verified)

What is the role of red fox in the eco-system

Guest (not verified)

Hello, my name is Asad, and im doing research on the Polar Bear, and I was wondering if you can tell me what is the role of the polar bear and how it effects the ecosystem?

Robert Harris

Hi John,
The Red Fox is a summer visitor north of the Brooks Range.  Red Fox like to be in areas that have black spruce and other trees.  During the summer they will move across the Brooks Range into the tundra (no trees) and feed on lemmings, voles and ground squirrels.  In 1985 I saw a Red Fox dig a ground squirrel out of its hole in the Prudhoe Bay area when I was doing some fisheries work there.  As the weather gets colder the Red Fox tend to move south, below the Brooks Range and into the forests.  That leaves the Arctic Fox on the ice and tundra in the north.
I hope that helps.
Mr. Harris

Robert Harris

Hi Asad,
If you look at the posts #1 and #10 they talk about the Polar Bears.  If you have a more specific question I will be happy to help.
I hope that helps.
Sincerely
 Mr. Harris

Anastasia (not verified)

This is so cool about polar bears and i would like to see one in life besides the zoo.

Anonymous (not verified)

what is the niche of an organism . ? SIncerley , Sushana !

Robert Harris

Hi Sushana,A niche is the job that a living thing has in that ecosystem (where they live).
Some living things (organisms) capture energy from sunlight or chemicals (producers) and turn that energy into chemical energy (like sugars) that other living things can use (consumers). Plants are an example of a producer and you are an example of a consumer. The organisms address within the ecosystem is that organisms habitat.
I hope that helps.
Mr. Harris

Anonymous (not verified)

HI!! i have a project on the ecosystem on polar bears. i need to know as much as i can to see what im going to do what i need to add what they eat, where they live, whats their habitat and so much more. As i told u i need as much information as possible. Will u please help me?

Anonymous (not verified)

I'm doing a project on the threatened species, polar bears. I found this board but the question I have hasn't quite been answered.What effects would the ecosystem have if the polar bears were to be eliminated?
Rebecca

Anonymous (not verified)

I'm doing a project on the threatened species, polar bears. I found this board but the question I have hasn't quite been answered.What effects would the ecosystem have if the polar bears were to be eliminated?
Rebecca

Robert Harris

Hi Rebecca,Interesting question. No one really knows what would happen to the ecosystem if polar bears were eliminated. However if we look at a food web of the Arctic Ocean (you could google this), we see that polar bears eat seals. If the polar bears were gone there would be more seals. Seals eat fish. So there would probably be fewer fish. But many sea birds also eat fish. So there would be fewer of these kinds of sea birds. What eats sea birds? Maybe arctic foxes when the birds are breeding in colonies. So there might be fewer arctic foxes. But killer whales also eat seals. If there are a lot of seals maybe killer whales will move into the area and start eating the seals. Some sharks also eat seals, so maybe after awhile there will be more seal eating sharks. So there are a lot of possibilities. Which one will happen? We don't know. Have we thought of all the factors that influence the outcome? Are there other possibilites that we haven't considered? Probably. That is why your question is so interesting.

Anonymous (not verified)

What would happen if one animal became extinct in an ecosystem due to over hunting or any human activity? I am doing a project in Social about how Globalization is distrubing our ecosystems. If someone could get back to me this would be great thanks!! :)

Robert Harris

Hi,What would happen in the ecosystem would depend on the organisms position in the food web. You might check out the reply to the question on Polar Bear extinction. When sea otters were sharply reduced off California, sea urchin populations grew and reduced the kelp forest ecosystem affecting associated algae and animals (fish, crabs etc). Over hunting of the american bison destroyed the plains indians way of life. Certainly over fishing off Georges Banks has reduced the cod populations and caused less desirable fish populations to grow. In the Gulf of Cortez fishing has reduced the swordfish populations and larger Humboldt squid have become more common.
It is difficult to say exactly what is going to happen when changes are made to complex integrated systems like an ecosystem. We always run up against the law of unintended consequences.

Anonymous (not verified)

what are the man's role of an ecosystem?

Anonymous (not verified)

What role does the animal have in this environment?(what animals, plants, etc. depend on that animal for food or population control?) What would happen if the animal became extinct?

Robert Harris

Make sure you check out the questions and answers above. I think you will find the answers to your questions there. If there is some thing more specific, just let me know.

Robert Harris

Historically, man has used the caribou, whales, seals and fish for food and fur. Currently, there is oil and mineral exploration and development taking place. As a circumpolar sea lane opens in the sumer there is more shipping traffic occurring.

Anonymous (not verified)

what are the roles a polar bear has in an ecosystem and how does the polar bear fit into the environment

Robert Harris

Please look at the replies above. #1 and #10 will be especially helpful. If there is anything else I can help you with please let me knowMr. H

Anonymous (not verified)

i need to know why the arctic fox should be saved from extinction, what is their role in thier enviroment and what is so special about them? please help

Robert Harris

Arctic Foxes live in all the countries surrounding the Arctic Ocean. Arctic Fox fur is white in the winter and a brownish tan in the summer. During the winter Arctic Foxes feed on lemmings and voles (small rodents like mice). They also scavenge off dead animals and eat scraps left over from Polar Bear kills. In the late winter-early spring Arctic Foxes have their young in dens dug in the snow. As the spring progresses and moves into summer, Arctic Foxes add eggs and chicks to their diet from birds nesting in the Arctic. They also scavenge from the large caribou herds that migrate into the area. Spring and Summer is a time when food is plentiful in the Arctic and life is good for the Arctic Foxes.

Anonymous (not verified)

Why should the arctic fox be saved from extinction?

Robert Harris

Hummm. This is an interesting question. What do you think? Why should the arctic fox be saved from extinction? I'd really like to see how you would answer this question and what you think about it.

Anonymous (not verified)

im not sure all i could think of was that it maintains biodiversity and also maintains the food web, but i need more ideas. so could u give me a few more ideas please

Robert Harris

Your on the right track, both of these are good ideas. You need to elaborate (explain more). How would the biodiversity change? What would happen in the food web? Think about the populations of organisms that the arctic fox eats. How would their population change? What happens to their food supply? If the change is too great what might the end result be? Best wishes
Mr. H

Anonymous (not verified)

Describe four ways in which the polar bear is suited or adapted to its role and to life in the Arctic.

Anonymous (not verified)

Info about the Arctic FoxDiet-
The arctic fox is an opportunistic eater. It will eat just about whatever it comes across. It eats small mammals like lemmings, voles, and ground squirrels; birds; insects; eggs; berries and carrion. In fact, in the winter it often follows polar bears and wolves and eats their leftover kill. If food is really scarce, it will eat the feces of other animals. In the summer the arctic fox will carry extra food to its den and store it under rocks to eat later. The arctic fox sometimes even makes its own freezer by digging a hole in the permafrost and storing its food there. A major source of food for the arctic fox is the lemming. In fact, the arctic fox population often peaks every four years in a cycle that follows lemming population changes.
- Nature Works/Arctic Fox/Alopex lagopus -- http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/arcticfox.htm#7
The Arctic Foxes' diets makes up of small mammals including voles and
lemmings, as well as on birds and their eggs. Arctic Foxes are
opportunistic and will sometimes scavenge on dead carcasses of
animals, and they are often seen following Polar Bears to feed on the
leftovers the bears leave behind. Arctic Foxes will also eat some
vegetation such as berries.
- Tundra Animals/Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) -- http://www.tundraanimals.net/tundraanimals/arcticfox.html
Lemmings are the staple food for Arctic foxes. However, they are quite opportunistic, and will eat whatever is available out on the frozen tundra, even if it means scavenging leftovers from other predators, such as polar bears.
- Defenders of Wildlife/Fact Sheet Arctic Fox -- http://www.defenders.org/arctic-fox/basic-facts
The arctic fox will generally eat any small animal it can find: lemmings, voles, hares, owls, eggs, and carrion, etc. Lemmings are the most common prey. A family of foxes can eat dozens of lemmings each day. During April and May the arctic fox also preys on ringed seal pups when the young animals are confined to a snow den and are relatively helpless. Fish beneath the ice are also part of its diet. They also consume berries and seaweed and may thus be considered omnivores. It is a significant bird egg predator, excepting those of the largest tundra bird species. If there is an overabundance of food hunted, the arctic fox will bury what the family cannot eat. When its normal prey is scarce, the arctic fox scavenges the leftovers and even feces of larger predators, such as the polar bear, even though the bear's prey includes the arctic fox itself.
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia/Arctic fox -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_fox
Habitat-
In the summer the arctic fox lives in the tundra at the edge of forest. In the winter it can be found on ice floes where its white coat serves as camouflage. Its den is usually a burrow in a hillside or a bank and it has more than one entrance. In the winter the fox often makes its den in a snowbank.
- Nature Works/Arctic Fox/Alopex lagopus -- http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/arcticfox.htm#7
Arctic Foxes are native to the cold Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They have a circumpolar range, meaning they can be found throughout the entire Arctic. They live in places such as the outer edges of Greenland, Russia, Canada, Alaska, Iceland, and other locations. The Arctic Fox is, in fact, the only land mammal native to Iceland. The combined populations in Finland, Norway, and Sweden is an estimate of about a mere 120 adult individuals.
The Arctic Foxes' adaptations allow them to live in such an extreme environment. They live in treeless terrain, with temperatures ranging between -76 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit yearly. Their coats change with the seasons to blend in with white surroundings in winter and darker surroundings in the summer. They often live in a den dug into the side of a hill, cliff, or riverbank. Although the Arctic Fox's surroundings change throughout the year, it adapts to meet its current needs.
- The Arctic Fox -- http://elainebp3.weebly.com/habitat.html
Like many foxes, the Arctic Fox builds a den. For the Arctic Fox the
den can sometimes be in a hillside or river bank, and will usually have
multiple entrances and exits. The Arctic Fox can be found in arctic or
alpine tundra.
- Tundra Animals/Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) -- http://www.tundraanimals.net/tundraanimals/arcticfox.html
Genetic Code Variation-
The arctic fox is dark gray to bluish brown in the summer. In the winter its fur is white or creamy white. It has a long bushy tail, a short nose and small curled back ears. It has short, stubby legs and thick fur. Its short legs and nose, thick fur and small ears are adaptations that help it survive in cold climates. Because its legs are so short and its ears and nose are small, they are less exposed to the cold. The arctic fox also has thick fur and hair on its paw pads that help keep it warm. The fur on its paws also gives the fox traction so it doesn't slide on the ice. When the arctic fox is sleeping, it protects its nose from the cold by curling its bushy tail around its body. The arctic fox is about three feet long and weighs between five and fifteen pounds. Males are larger than females.
- Nature Works/Arctic Fox/Alopex lagopus -- http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/arcticfox.htm#7
The Arctic Foxes' adaptations allow them to live in such an extreme environment. They live in treeless terrain, with temperatures ranging between -76 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit yearly. Their coats change with the seasons to blend in with white surroundings in winter and darker surroundings in the summer. They often live in a den dug into the side of a hill, cliff, or riverbank. Although the Arctic Fox's surroundings change throughout the year, it adapts to meet its current needs.
- The Arctic Fox -- http://elainebp3.weebly.com/habitat.html
The Arctic Fox measures 3 - 3.5 feet in length from head to tail. The
weight of the Arctic Fox can range from 6 - 9 pounds, with females
being smaller than males. Like many animals of the tundra, Arctic
Foxes have special adaptations to help them survive in extremely cold
climates. These adaptations include fur on its paws to help keep them
warm, a thick, dense coat of fur around its body, short ears, a small
body, and a large and bushy tail that it uses to curl around its body.
- Tundra Animals/Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) -- http://www.tundraanimals.net/tundraanimals/arcticfox.html
The tundra is not an easy place to live. It is barren, rocky, and without much vegetation. Arctic foxes are extremely well adapted to their frigid homes, and have secured a niche where they make the best out of almost any situation.
One of the most unique and interesting behaviors of Arctic foxes is how they hunt. They have incredible hearing, aided by their wide, front-facing ears, which allow them to locate the precise position of their prey beneath the snow.
When the Arctic fox hears its next meal under the snow-pack, it leaps into the air and pounces, breaking through the layer of snow right onto the prey beneath.
The arctic fox lives in some of the most frigid extremes on the planet. Among its adaptations for cold survival is its deep, thick fur, a system of counter current heat exchange in the circulation of paws to retain core temperature, and a good supply of body fat. The fox has a low surface area to volume ratio, as evidenced by its generally rounded body shape, short muzzle and legs, and short, thick ears. Since less of its surface area is exposed to the arctic cold, less heat escapes the body. Its furry paws allow it to walk on ice in search of food. The arctic fox has such keen hearing that it can precisely locate the position of prey under the snow. When it finds prey, it pounces and punches through the snow to catch its victim. Its fur changes color with the seasons: in the winter it is white to blend in with snow, while in the summer it is brown.
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia/Arctic fox -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_fox

Anonymous (not verified)

thank you sooooo much!!! that was just what i needed

Ezra (not verified)

Does anything in the world eat Killer Whales?

andrea (not verified)

hello, what are bears contribution to the ecosystem?

rosie blossom (not verified)

thank u for the info great help. i need to know what is the role of a arctic fox in its environment

Joe (not verified)

So what is the job of a cheetah in its ecosystem Mr. Robbert Harris

Ealissa Osness (not verified)

Hi, I am doing a school essay/project in two days and I need to know what the role of the Arctic Fox is in the ecosystem, I have been searching the internet, and I haven't been finding enything. So if you can answer in the next two days I want to know what the Arctic Foxes role in the ecosystem is? Please answer and thank you for reading.

your mom (not verified)

whatv does the fox does in eco system

your mom (not verified)

whatv does the fox does in eco system

pole (not verified)

this is so cool I like and con learn me about it

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/05/2007 - 19:22