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Fauna of the Khibiny tundra

Fauna of the Khibiny tundra has been formed mainly during post glacial period. Animals have come here from the southern and eastern areas following the retreated glaciers. Typical arctic species are not so many but here can be mentioned Arctic fox and Norwegian lemming. The majority of the land animals inhabit in the far northern boundary of its habitat, therefore populations are changing.


In the Khibiny area the wild nature is diverse but scanty. Habitat of the animals is connected with altitudinal belt and soil-vegetative cover.

Some animal species are rare being on the verge of extinction such as reindeers. In winter season they search for moss - lichen is their food during the cold season. In summer there is a wide variety of plants. Besides, reindeer feed on lemmings - rodents of vole family. Local inhabitants call them «reindeer mouse».

Tundra zone, forest tundra and transitional area are characteristic of our region. Majority of the land animals can be found in all zones. Only some species prefer inhabitance in one definite zone. So, in forest there are squirrels, weasel, hazel grouse and wood grouse. Ptarmigan, Arctic fox and Norwegian lemming are found in tundra and partly and forest tundra. Some species, especially, birds prefer forest skirts and broken forest along the rivers, even found far away in tundra. And, vice versa, there are tundra representatives in the forest tundra zone and taiga.

Fauna of invertebrates of the northern land is studied not enough. But blood-sucking insects, shell-fish and part of crustaceans are thoroughly studied. Fresh water entities, streams full of rapids and rivers are rich in fresh water pearl mussels - bivalve mollusks. Pearl mussel stands alone as it inhabits only clean waters and in some the shells have real pearls. This kind of fishery was very popular long time ago. Found pearls have been used for decorations. Now pearl mussel is rare, there is no pearl fishery.

The insects of the Khibiny massif are: mosquito - abundantly, black fly, butterflies and bumble bees of bright colors.

Fauna of the two seas - the Barents Sea and the White Sea - has representatives of all system groups. Nevertheless, fauna of the Barents Sea is remarkable for rich resources. Ichthyofauna amounts no less than 150 species of fish, among which are commercial ones - cod, capelin, herring. The White Sea is peculiar of its severity; fish species composition is two times less than in the Barents Sea.

Salmon or Atlantic salmon is the commercial fish of great importance since old times; it adapted for inhabitance both in fresh and sea waters. This fish is a remarkable traveler, it migrates for thousands of kilometers. After two-four years of inhabitance in the river, the salmon goes to sea and then comes back only to breed. It belongs to the migratory fish. Besides, there are semi-anadromous fish as White Sea whitefish and smelt. In fresh waters trout, pike, perch and grayling can be found.

Fishery resources of the region were impacted by such factors as dam construction, water pollution, timber rafting, utilization of more efficient fishing methods, increasing fishing activities. It can be traced based on example of the largest and rich in the recent past Imandra lake, where it was about 15 fish species, and fishing by 80% consisted of whitefish and salmon. The changes have been noted since apatite exploitation and production started and Niva hydropower station chain has been built. There were no salmon upstream the Niva River, the only river that takes off the Imandra lake. The lake itself was gradually polluted: first by the apatite-nepheline processing wastes, metallurgy plants and utility fluids; then heat pollution was registered due to discharge of water from Kolskaya NPP. As a result, fishing has been reduced by more than five times during 30 years. In the heavy polluted zones trout and char have disappeared.

But it is not the case with all species to react to pollution like that. At site of pollution export, for example, near Belaya river mouth there are good conditions for worm and maggot breeding. Abundant food attracts whitefish, although such food results in dramatic consequences: based on scientists’ observations, fish suffers hard changes that affect the process of natural reproduction. Therefore, the fish number is reducing and the population is declining.

River and Lake water of the Khibiny is of green-blue color. The waters are pure, transparent, but cold. So, salmon family is presented by: grayling, mountain char (trout), arctic char that stand cold temperatures.

Cold-blooded amphibians and repents inhabit areas with warm climate. In the Khibiny area there are three species of amphibians: common toad, grass toad and moor frog.

Repents are presented by two species: common viper and common lizard. Very rare toads and frogs. All the rest species are numerous but unequally distributed. How such thermophile species can live here? For the most part of the year they are inactive. Active period lasts since mid of May to mid-end of September.

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