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


This ecoregion includes most of the St. Elias Mountains and Kluane Ranges in the Yukon and includes vast regions of ice fields and high elevation mountain peaks. The mean annual temperature decreases with elevation, but for major valley bottoms it is approximately -1.5°C,  with a summer mean of 9.5°C and a winter mean of -14°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 300 mm at low elevations increasing with elevation and moving west to very high levels of more than 1000 mm in the ice fields. This ecoregion is a combination of permanent ice and snowfields with minor areas of rock outcrop, rubbly colluvium, and alpine tundra vegetation composed of low-growing heather, dwarf birch, willow, grass, and lichen. Wet sites in the vegetated areas support cottongrass and sedge. The St. Elias Mountains, composed of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic strata, are among the highest mountains in Canada with their serrated pinnacles ranging upward to 6000 m asl. The main peaks stand as isolated blocks separated by broad ice fields. As the limit of permanent snow is 2150 m asl, the mountains present great masses of ice and snow and are the source of many great valley glaciers radiating out towards the Shakwak Trench. Permafrost is continuous at high elevation and sporadic discontinuous at low elevation along the east side of the ecoregion. The few valleys that are included in the eastern portion of this ecoregion are dominated by morainal and fluvioglacial materials, with Eutric Brunisols being the most common soil development. Characteristic wildlife includes caribou, grizzly bear, Dall's sheep, and mountain goat. Much of the ecoregion is composed of protected areas including Kluane National Park Reserve, Kluane Game Preserve and the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park in British Columbia. Land uses are dominated by recreational activities, including hiking, mountain climbing, and river rafting and kayak trips. There are no permanent settlements in the ecoregion.

This ecoregion is part of the Boreal Cordillera ecozone.