Arctic biodiversity

The Arctic is considered as one of the Earth’s last pristine ecosystems. It hosts an incredibly unique ecosystem with a rich biodiversity, with hundreds of migratory species relying on the Arctic as they travel long distances every year. A total of 21,000 species inhabit the Arctic, including 5,000 animals such as marine mammals, birds, fish, and other higher organisms as well as 2,000 types of algae, and tens of thousands of ecologically critical microbes. These species are of critical ecological importance because of their specific adaptations to the Arctic’s harsh climatic conditions. This biodiversity is also critical for economic reasons: the resources provided by the Arctic ecosystem provide local jobs, genetic resources and climate regulation through carbon sequestration, for example. However, the Arctic has an incomplete legal protection for biodiversity, and with the increased demand for Arctic exploration and exploitation it is increasingly under threat.