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So, after some advice in narrowing down the topic (used to be what kind of characteristics do animals need in different environments or something like that) I have decided to start a series! Starting with this: flora and fauna in a polar environment. So, what kind of characteristics do animals need to thrive in a polar environment? Do they absolutely need to have a dense layer of blubber to keep warm or anything like that, or would a thick layer of fur be just as good? I've heard that plants need to be small to survive, but would it be possible to have bigger plants? I mean, would it be possible to have a tree that just spread its roots out over a large area?

Sorry for the slapdash manner of this question, I'm kind of new at this.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1) This question is very broad. 2) Why don't you look at creatures and plants in different kind of biotopes and look at the features they've developed and the function they fulfill. Even if your creature is fictitious it can have body parts that are similar to existing creatures and fulfill the same function. $\endgroup$ – Hyfnae Jul 5 '17 at 6:49
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    $\begingroup$ welcome to Worldbuilding. I hope you realize that you are asking to summarize the entire evolution of life on Earth within few lines here on Worldbuilding, and that even "too broad" is an euphemysm in this case. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jul 5 '17 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding Piiec! This question is very broad as you are basically asking to analyze every animal and plant in every existing biotope and extracting all their characteristics to build a very long list. Are you interested in a special environment? This could help in narrowing down the question and making it answerable. Or do you have a specific design for an animal in mind that you would like to get checked? If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 5 '17 at 7:15
  • $\begingroup$ Otherwise the usual approach to questions that are "too broad" is to split them into a sort of series of questions. So basically you are asking about one aspect, wait a few days for feedback and incorporate that feedback into your next question until you are satisfied with your personal list of questions. In that case you can also link to the previous questions or a Meta Post where you list all of them if people like your series. In your case it would be a good idea to start with one environment. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 5 '17 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ Your question is currently on hold. This gives you the chance to edit it without people jumping in and already answering. That would be bad because your edits would likely invalidate their work. Your edits will automatically put the question in the reopen review queue where people can vote to reopen your question once it is ready for the Main Site. Getting questions on hold, especially the first ones on the site, is pretty normal. Being on-topic is quite hard, especially on WorldBuilding.SE. Please edit your question. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 5 '17 at 7:55
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There is one overwhelming factor they need, a food source, many organisms live in polar environments but the overwhelming live in places with productive natural conditions. Either places warm enough to support plant life for part of the year or they rely entirely on the ocean as a base for the food chain, which makes for a fairly short and simple food chain. Living in the arctic is not that difficult for an animal, compared to life in general, finding enough food is. Otherwise it is just a matter of preventing the body tissue from freezing.

Plants suffer from several factor limiting their survival at the poles. low light, prolonged darkness, and temperatures cold enough to freeze all but the most resistant body fluids. This limits the size of the plants becasue they have little in the way of excess energy to use for growing to large size. The closer you get to the pole the bigger these problems become. Tree require a lot of excess energy, wood is literally made of sugar that could have been used for their metabolism. trees also can bee split and shattered by water freezing in the trunk.

An additional problem is lack of moisture if the environment never gets warm enough for a thaw there is no moisture for plants to utilize, basically adding the problems of an extreme desert to the cold and light conditions.

Of course asking about a specific trait or type of organisms will allow for a more detailed answer, but this should help get you started, you can try the polar ecology wiki for more ideas.

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