Animals of the far north are similar to those found in Eurasia and are well adapted to their cold, treeless environment. Many of these animals evolved from Ice Age species as the glaciers that once covered North America slowly retreated northward. They are large in size and thickly furred, allowing them to maximize conservation of body heat. Large herbivores such as musk oxen and caribou graze on grasses, lichens, and mosses and are, in turn, a food source for polar bears and arctic wolves. Smaller predators such as the arctic white fox feed on arctic hares and small rodents such as voles, lemmings, or the arctic ground squirrels that subsist upon the small shrubs, berries, and grass seeds of the tundra.
Seals and whales proliferate in the Arctic seas. Birdlife in the Arctic tundra is nearly absent in the winter months, with the exception of willow ptarmigans and snowy owls. In the three to four months of summer, several bird species use the region as a breeding ground where young can be hatched and fed with the abundant insect life that emerges during the long and warmer days of summer. Among these migratory species are many varieties of waterfowl, including Canada geese, snow geese, whooping swans, trumpeter swans, phalaropes, plovers, and arctic terns.
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