Polar desert

Description (English)

Polar desert is characterized by extreme low summer temperatures, low precipitation and shallow, usually base-rich soils over permafrost and flat or low undulating relief. The habitat is often totally bare or has at most a very sparse low cover of rosette plants growing among bryophytes and lichens. A light snow cover can encourage somewhat more extensive growth and areas with higher precipitation where reindeer graze and defaecate benefit from more moisture and nutrients.

Source: EUNIS habitat classification

Quick facts

EUNIS habitat type code U52

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Indicator species

Diagnostic species
Constant species
Dominant species
Flowering Plants Luzula confusa
Flowering Plants Cassiope tetragona
Flowering Plants Hierochloe alpina
Flowering Plants Juncus trifidus
Flowering Plants Carex bigelowii
Flowering Plants Cardamine bellidifolia
Flowering Plants Agrostis mertensii
Flowering Plants Festuca ovina
Flowering Plants Cassiope hypnoides
Flowering Plants Antennaria alpina
Flowering Plants Sibbaldia procumbens
Flowering Plants Veronica alpina
Flowering Plants Vaccinium vitis-idaea

Diagnostic species occur concentrated in the habitat in question, but are absent or rare in other habitats. They are good positive indicators of the habitat, but they do not need to occur in every location of the habitat.

Species scientific name English common name Species group
Luzula confusa Flowering Plants
Cassiope tetragona Flowering Plants
Hierochloe alpina Flowering Plants
Juncus trifidus Flowering Plants
Carex bigelowii Flowering Plants
Cardamine bellidifolia Flowering Plants
Agrostis mertensii Flowering Plants
Festuca ovina Flowering Plants
Cassiope hypnoides Flowering Plants
Antennaria alpina Flowering Plants
Sibbaldia procumbens Flowering Plants
Veronica alpina Flowering Plants
Vaccinium vitis-idaea Flowering Plants
Flowering Plants Luzula confusa
Flowering Plants Festuca ovina
Flowering Plants Vaccinium vitis-idaea
Flowering Plants Juncus trifidus
Flowering Plants Carex bigelowii
Flowering Plants Cassiope tetragona
Flowering Plants Veronica alpina
Flowering Plants Sibbaldia procumbens
Ferns Lycopodium annotinum
Flowering Plants Hierochloe alpina
Flowering Plants Hieracium lachenalii
Flowering Plants Gnaphalium supinum
Flowering Plants Cassiope hypnoides
Flowering Plants Cardamine bellidifolia
Flowering Plants Betula nana
Flowering Plants Antennaria alpina
Flowering Plants Agrostis mertensii

Constant species occur frequently in the habitat, but they may include generalist species that are also frequent in other habitats.

Species scientific name English common name Species group
Luzula confusa Flowering Plants
Festuca ovina Flowering Plants
Vaccinium vitis-idaea Flowering Plants
Juncus trifidus Flowering Plants
Carex bigelowii Flowering Plants
Cassiope tetragona Flowering Plants
Veronica alpina Flowering Plants
Sibbaldia procumbens Flowering Plants
Lycopodium annotinum Ferns
Hierochloe alpina Flowering Plants
Hieracium lachenalii Flowering Plants
Gnaphalium supinum Flowering Plants
Cassiope hypnoides Flowering Plants
Cardamine bellidifolia Flowering Plants
Betula nana Flowering Plants
Antennaria alpina Flowering Plants
Agrostis mertensii Flowering Plants

Dominant species are those that often reach high cover in the habitat, thus determining the habitat physiognomy.

Species scientific name English common name Species group

Other classifications

History

Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type Comment
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200410 H5.1 Fjell fields and other freeze-thaw features with very sparse or no vegetation same
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200308 H5.1 Fjell fields and other freeze-thaw features with very sparse or no vegetation same
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200202 H5.1 Fjell fields and other freeze-thaw features with very sparse or no vegetation same
EUNIS Habitat Classification 199910 H5.1 Fjell fields and other freeze-thaw features with very sparse or no vegetation same
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