Scandinavian Montane Birch forest and grasslands


Scandinavian Montane Birch forest and grasslands

The Scandinavian Montane Birch forests and grasslands PA 1110 is one of the terrestrial ecoregions as defined by the World Wildlife Fund.

Geography

The ecoregion follows the Scandinavian Mountains, and is mainly located within the borders of Norway and Sweden, as well as the northernmost part of Finland.This is a varied, 1,600 km long ecoregion, with a total area of approximately 243 000 km² (slightly larger than Great Britain). The largest glaciers on the European mainland is located here, as is the highest mountains and the largest mountain plateau in northern Europe. The mountain chain itself creates a rainshadow, and the eastern part of the mountain chain is considerably drier than the western part.

Habitats

Parts of the ecoregion is located in smaller mountain areas surrounded by lower elevation biomes, as is the case with many coastal mountains in Norway.About one third of the total area is made up by high alpine tundra with very modest vegetation and bare rock. Another third comprises low alpine tundra with continuous plant cover; dwarf birch and willows up to 1 m tall and grasslands, as well as numerous lakes and bogs. The last third is made up by the adjacent montane birch zone with small (2-5 m) mountain Downy birch (ssp czerepanovii) above the conifer tree line; some stunted spruce and pine trees near the tree line is also included, as are many lakes and bogs. This part is regarded as part of the North Boreal vegetation zone rather than tundra by Scandinavian botanists. In the lower elevations, the forests become closed-canopy and mostly belong to the Scandinavian and Russian taiga ecoregion; some of the coastal areas does not have true taiga.

Conservation value

The Scandinavian Montane Birch forests and grasslands is one of the Global 200 ecoregions, and is thus regarded as a high priority for conservation.

Flora and fauna

There are many alpine plant species in this region not found anywhere else in Europe, but often in the Arctic and sometimes in mountain areas in North America. The Fauna includes predators like wolverine, brown bear, wolf and red fox. The arctic fox is in danger of extinction in this area, but there are efforts to try to save the species. There are also wild reindeer (only in mountains in central Norway, domesticated reindeer is much more common). Lemming and hare (lower altitude) are character species for the region. There are approximately 150 musk oxen on Dovrefjell, being transported from Greenland in the 1930s, as the species were extinct in Scandinavia. There is a rich bird life; most birds are migratory, but some, like the ptarmigan,stay all year.

See also

* Alpine tundra
* Scandinavian coastal conifer forests
* Scandinavian and Russian taiga
* Vegetation of Norway

External links

* [http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/pa/pa1110_full.html WWF]
* [http://www.nationalgeographic.com/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/pa/pa1110.html National Geographic]


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