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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion covers the Rocky Mountains of southeastern British Columbia including the Continental Ranges, where elevations rise to over 3000 m asl along the continental divide. The ecoregion includes the western portion of the Columbia Icefield as well as the highest mountain in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Mount Robson, at just over 3600 m asl. Low-elevation valleys are marked by warm, showery summers and mild, snowy winters. Subalpine summers are cool, showery, and prone to frosts. Winters are moderately cold and snowy. The mean annual temperature for the valleys of the ecoregion is approximately 3.5°C with a summer mean of 13°C and a winter mean of -6.5°C. The mean annual precipitation in the major valleys is 700-800 mm. In the subalpine zone the annual precipitation climbs up to 1200 mm. The ecoregion is predominantly composed of subalpine and alpine ecosystems and a few major valley systems covered by montane forests. This ecoregion is differentiated from the adjacent Eastern Continental Ranges ecoregion (207) by generally higher precipitation, particularly in the northern portion of the ecoregion. Montane forests are composed of western hemlock and western red cedar in the north, trending to white spruce and alpine fir forests in the south. Subalpine forests are composed of Engelmann spruce, alpine fir, and lodgepole pine. The mountain ranges are composed of Palaeozoic limestones and quartzites. Glaciation has sculpted great U-shaped valleys and left valley floors filled with glaciofluvial and morainal sediments. Rock outcrops predominate at the highest elevations. Regosolic, Brunisolic, and occasional Podzolic soils have developed on colluvial, morainal, and fluvioglacial deposits in the ecoregion. Permafrost occurs in isolated patches in alpine areas. Characteristic wildlife includes elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, caribou, wolf, grizzly and black bear, and mountain goat. Part of the ecoregion falls within Mount Robson Park as well as Yoho, Kootenay and Glacier national parks, where tourism and recreation are the major land uses. Outside of the park boundaries, big game hunting, and some forestry and mineral resource exploration take place. Field is the main community, and the population of the ecoregion is approximately 1200.

This ecoregion is part of the Montane Cordillera ecozone.