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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion extends southward from the Mackenzie River delta to Great Bear Lake, including some of the terrain surrounding the southern shore of the lake. It is marked by short, cool summers and long, very cold winters. The mean annual temperature is approximately -9°C. The mean summer temperature is 8°C and the mean winter temperature is -25.5°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges 200-300 mm. The ecoregion is classified as having a high subarctic ecoclimate. The latitudinal limits of tree growth are reached along its northern boundary. The predominant vegetation consists of open, very stunted stands of black spruce and tamarack with secondary quantities of white spruce and a ground cover of dwarf birch, willow, ericaceous shrubs, cottongrass, lichen, and moss. Poorly drained sites usually support tussocks of sedge, cottongrass, and sphagnum moss. Low shrub tundra, consisting of dwarf birch and willow, is also common. Composed of flat-lying Cretaceous shale and Devonian limestone strata, the surface of this ecoregion is generally below 310 m asl. As elevations gradually increase southward, entrenched river channels lie some 60-150 m below the surrounding surface. The ecoregion is generally covered by undulating glacial drift and outwash deposits. Turbic Cryosols with Static and Organic Cryosols developed on organic deposits with deep permafrost are the dominant soils. Unfrozen Organic and Brunisolic soils also occur. Permafrost is extensive and discontinuous with low to medium ground ice content, and is characterized by sparse ice wedges. Wildlife includes caribou, moose, black bear, wolf, red fox, snowshoe hare, and beaver. Common birds include spruce grouse, raven, osprey, and waterfowl. Land use activities include trapping, hunting, fishing, recreation, and tourism. There are no permanent communities in this ecoregion.

This ecoregion is part of the Taiga Plains ecozone.