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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion occurs as two separate areas in west-central Alberta. The smaller southern part of this area extends into the foothills (146), and the larger northern part crosses into British Columbia, with a second small extension into Alberta south of the Peace River (145). The mean annual temperature ranges from 1.5°C in the north to 2°C in the south. The mean summer temperature is 12.5°C and the mean winter temperature ranges from -11°C in the north to -8.5°C in the south. The mean annual precipitation is approximately 450-600 mm. The region represents a transition between mid-boreal and mid-cordilleran vegetation, which occurs on the lower southeastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and the western edge of the Alberta Plain. Its mixed forests of lodgepole pine, trembling aspen, and white spruce with balsam poplar, paper birch, and balsam fir, are characteristic of the region. Aspen and open stands of lodgepole pine occur on drier sites; black spruce and tamarack are associated with wet sites. Conifers are more prevalent on cooler, higher elevations in the foothills, whereas aspen is more dominant in its lower plains section. The foothills, composed of Cretaceous sediments, rise abruptly above the plains and are mainly linear ridges, rolling plateau remnants, and broad valleys. Their summits range 700-1500 m asl in elevation. These strongly dissected uplands with local relief of 100-200 m are covered with thin, discontinuous, loamy glacial till, some peat blankets, and clayey lacustrine and sandy fluvioglacial deposits. Well-developed Luvisolic soils with some bare rock ridges and Gleysolic and Organic soils are dominant in the region. The ecoregion generally slopes and drains northeastward via the Peace, Athabasca, and Saskatchewan river systems. Characteristic wildlife includes moose, black bear, beaver, muskrat, wolf, snowshoe hare, waterfowl, sandhill crane, ruffed grouse, and other birds. Land use activities include commercial pulpwood and sawlog forestry, water-oriented recreation, and wildlife trapping and hunting. The major communities include Hinton, Edson, Nordegg, and Swan Hills. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 55 100.

This ecoregion is part of the Boreal Plains ecozone.