Polar regions

Earth’s major ecosystems: polar regions (taiga, tundra, the Poles)

Almost everywhere on Earth, life is controlled by seasons. Above and below the polar circles, seasonality reaches an extreme: polar days in summer and polar nights in winter both become longer closer to the poles. The sun may never be high during polar day, but it never disappears below the horizon. Follow the path of the sun along the wall and wait a minute to experience a polar night: the sunlight fades to a bluish dawn and where the sun was just shining, the colours and lights of the aurora appear.

  • The room is dominated by a huge diorama illustrating the transition from taiga forest with spruce and Eurasian elk (also known as moose), to treeless tundra with lichens, mosses, low shrubs, and a long-haired musk-ox.
  • The tundra is home to the famous lemmings. Learn about the lemmings’ impact on their ecosystem and vice versa, and more about the background of the collective suicide story.
  • A real pain for some, but an essential food resource for others to feed their offspring: insects such as mosquitoes may establish enormous populations during the short arctic summer.
  • Arctic or Antarctic? If you ever wonder whether you are at the North or the South Pole, take a look at the animals that surround you: polar bears only populate the far North, whereas penguins are only found in the Southern hemisphere.

Polar bear

King Penguin

Norway Lemming

Mosquito