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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion covers the outer Mackenzie River delta and Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula bordering the Beaufort Sea. Much of the ecoregion is covered by small lakes. The mean annual temperature is approximately -11.5°C with a summer mean of 4.5°C and a winter mean of -26.5°C. The mean annual precipitation ranges 125-200 mm with higher values for more southerly locations. This ecoregion is classified as having a low arctic ecoclimate. It is characterized by a continuous cover of shrubby tundra vegetation, consisting of dwarf birch, willow, northern Labrador tea, Dryas spp., and sedge tussocks. Tall dwarf birch, willow, and alder occur on warm sites; wet sites are dominated by sphagnum moss and sedge. Much of the ecoregion is composed of distinctive delta landforms at the mouth of the Mackenzie River. These include wetlands, active alluvial channels, and estuarine deposits. Characteristic wetlands which cover 25-50% of the area are lowland polygon fens, both the low- and high-centre varieties. On the peninsula, innumerable lakes and pingos, some very large, form unique and outstanding features of the landscape. The region is underlain by continuous permafrost with high ice content in the form of ice wedges and pingos. Organic and Turbic Cryosols developed on level to rolling organic, morainal, alluvial, fluvioglacial, and marine deposits are the dominant soils of the ecoregion. Regosolic Static Cryosols are the dominant soils in the active delta portion of the ecoregion. Characteristic wildlife includes caribou, muskox, snowshoe and arctic hare, red fox, wolf, and arctic ground squirrel. A variety of birds are present, including raptors, songbirds, ptarmigan, snowy owl, waterfowl, and shorebirds. In the marine environment, species present include walrus, seal, beluga whale, and polar bear. Land uses include subsistence trapping, hunting and fishing, and tourism-related recreation. Considerable hydrocarbon exploration has occurred in this ecoregion, which acted as the staging point and main base for the Beaufort Sea exploration program. The main settlement is Tuktoyaktuk and the population of the ecoregion is approximately 1000.

This ecoregion is part of the Southern Arctic ecozone.