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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion extends from the Horn River west along the Willowlake River to the Mackenzie River. To the northeast and south, the plateau (300-900 m asl) rises abruptly above the flat-lying terrain of the surrounding Great Slave Lake Plain and the Hay River Lowland ecoregions (generally less than 300 m asl). The plateau slopes more gently to the west. The ecoregion is marked by cool summers and very cold winters. The mean annual temperature is approximately -5.5°C. The mean summer temperature is 12°C and the mean winter temperature is -21°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 250 mm in the east to 400 mm in the west. The ecoregion is classified as having a high boreal ecoclimate. Native vegetation consists predominantly of low to medium, closed stands of black spruce and jack pine with an understory of feathermoss, bog cranberry, blueberry, Labrador tea, and lichens. White spruce, balsam fir, and trembling aspen occur in the warmer, moister sites in the southern section of the region. Black spruce is the climatic climax species. Drier, colder sites have more open stands of black spruce and jack pine. Low, closed and open stands of black spruce, Labrador tea, blueberry, bog rosemary, and sphagnum mosses dominate poorly drained, peat-filled depressions. Wetlands cover approximately 50% of the ecoregion and are characterized by peat plateau bogs, palsas and fens. There is extensive discontinuous permafrost with low to moderate ice content, characterized by sparse ice wedges. The ecoregion is underlain by Cretaceous shale and Devonian limestone bedrock, and is characterized by a smooth, level to undulating surface covered with loamy glacial till and organic deposits. Organic and Turbic Cryosols with some Eutric Brunisols are the dominant soils. Characteristic wildlife includes moose, black bear, fox, wolf, hare, raven, grouse, and waterfowl. Land use activities include forestry, and the hunting and trapping of wildlife.

This ecoregion is part of the Taiga Plains ecozone.