Home | Ecozones | Pacific Maritime
Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada

COASTAL GAP

This mid-coast ecoregion extends from the British Columbia-Alaska border north of Prince Rupert southward to the southern tip of the Hecate Lowland near Ocean Falls on Broughton Island. The ecoregion covers the Kitimat Ranges, which form part of a relatively low relief portion of the Coast Mountains. The ranges are composed of crystalline gneisses and granitic rocks, rarely reach 2400 m asl in elevation, and form a saddle between the higher Boundary Ranges to the north and the Pacific Ranges to the south. Glaciers are few and small. Numerous, steep-sided, transverse valleys, inlets and fjords dissect this mountainous coastal region. A climatic gradient exists across the Coast Mountains to slightly drier and cooler conditions across the divide towards the interior of the province. The mean annual temperature for the ecoregion is approximately 6.5°C with a summer mean of 13°C and a winter mean of -0.5°C. Along the coast, mean annual temperatures range from 9°C to 7.5°C. Mean annual precipitation is the highest on the British Columbia coast ranging from 2000 mm to greater than 4500 mm at higher elevations on the windward side of the Coast Mountains. Ocean Falls is the rainiest community in Canada with an average of 4386 mm of rain per year. The vegetation immediately adjacent to the Pacific Ocean includes stunted, open-growing western red cedar, yellow cedar, and western hemlock with some stunted shore pine and Sitka spruce. Wetlands predominate this part of the ecoregion with sloping bogs, basin bogs and occasional stream fens being the most common wetland forms. Red alder is common on disturbed alluvial sites. On steep topography, forest stands are primarily western hemlock and western red cedar, whereas amabilis fir is found with western hemlock on moister sites. Soils formed on mineral substrates range from Podzols to Gleysols while organic soils including upland Folisols with Mesisols and Fibrisols occur on the wetlands. Characteristic wildlife includes grizzly and black bear, mountain goat, black-tailed deer, wolf, mink, otter, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and grouse.  Important land uses include pulp and sawlog forestry, water-oriented recreation, hunting, and tourism. Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Kemano, and Bella Coola are the main communities. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 35 500.

This ecoregion is part of the Pacific Maritime ecozone.