Treeless, level, or gently rolling plains characteristic of arctic or subarctic regions, having a permanently frozen subsoil, and usually supporting low growing vegetation such as lichens, mosses, and stunted shrubs. [USGS Circ 1048]
Three themes of ongoing research: forecasting polar bear and walrus population response to changing marine ecosystems; measuring wildlife population changes in the Arctic coastal plain, and wildlife communities in the boreal-Arctic transition zone.
Changes in Arctic sea ice and permafrost will likely affect populations of wildlife. Migratory birds such as loons rely on freshwater lakes in the Arctic for nesting and food supply; we are studying how their populations are affected by these changes.
Scientific studies on the polar regions will receive greater attention during 2007-2008 as a result of USGS participation in the International Polar Year, coordinated in the US by the National Research Council, NSF, and NASA.