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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion spans the Yukon and Northwest Territories' borders and extends from Fort McPherson to the Mackenzie and Ramparts rivers. The climate is marked by short cool summers and long very cold winters. The mean annual temperature is approximately -8°C. The mean summer temperature is 9.5°C and the mean winter temperature is -25°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges between 250 mm in the eastern portion of the ecoregion to 350 mm in the west. The ecoregion is classified as having a high subarctic ecoclimate. 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. This ecoregion is underlain by Cretaceous shale, and incorporates a broad, shallow basin in its southwestern section at about 120 m asl. Some parts of the ecoregion have numerous lakes, and others are without. In the northeast, isolated hills rise to about 460 m asl, where it consists of Palaeozoic carbonate rocks. Both the Arctic Red and the Ontaratue rivers follow deeply incised valleys through this ecoregion to the Mackenzie River.  Permafrost is continuous with medium to high ice content, and is characterized by sparse ice wedges. Turbic and Organic Cryosols with some Static Cryosols developed on level to undulating morainal and organic deposits are the dominant soils. Unfrozen Dystric and Eutric Brunisolic soils also occur. Wetlands cover over 25% of the area in the north of the ecoregion, over 50% of the area in the south. Characteristic wildlife includes caribou, moose, black bear, wolf, red fox, snowshoe hare, beaver, spruce grouse, raven, osprey, and waterfowl. Land use activities are limited to trapping, hunting, fishing, recreation, and tourism. Major communities include Fort McPherson and Arctic Red River. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 900.

This ecoregion is part of the Taiga Plains ecozone.