Home | Ecozones | Arctic Cordillera
Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This rugged, mountainous ecoregion occurs on Axel Heiberg, Ellesmere, and Devon islands and is characterized by very short, cold summers, low species diversity and sparse vegetative cover. Mean annual temperature is approximately -18.5°C. Mean summer temperature is -2°C and mean winter temperature ranges from -30°C to -35°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges 200-300 mm. This ecoregion is classified as having a high arctic ecoclimate. Clumps of moss, lichen, and cold-hardy vascular plants such as sedge and cottongrass are the dominant vegetation. Arctic willow and Dryas spp. occur infrequently. The ice-covered Grantland and Axel Heiberg mountains, reaching 2500 m asl, consist mainly of long ridges of folded Mesozoic and Palaeozoic strata with minor igneous intrusions. A belt of deeply dissected Precambrian crystalline rock extends along the eastern flanks of eastern Devon Island and Ellesmere Island south of Bache Peninsula. This ecoregion is underlain by continuous permafrost containing low ice content. Ice fields and nunataks are common. To the northwest, the mountains pass abruptly into a narrow, seaward-sloping plateau, and to the east, with decreasing ruggedness into the elevated dissected edge of Eureka Upland. The ranges and ridges are transected by numerous steep-walled valleys and fjords with glaciers. Regosolic Static and Regosolic Turbic Cryosols are dominant soils that have developed on colluvial, alluvial, and marine sediments. Characteristic wildlife includes arctic hare, arctic fox, lemming, muskox, and caribou. Polar bears are common in coastal areas. Representative birds include the king eider, rock ptarmigan, northern fulmar, ringed plover, hoary redpoll, and snow bunting. Marine mammals include the walrus, seal, and whale.

This ecoregion is part of the Arctic Cordillera ecozone.