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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion extends from the McTavish Arm of Great Bear Lake to Howard Lake in the central District of Mackenzie in the Canadian Shield. It is marked by short, cool summers and very cold winters. The mean annual temperature is approximately -7.5°C. The mean summer temperature is 9°C and the mean winter temperature is -24.5°C. The mean annual precipitation ranges 200-300 mm. The ecoregion is classified as having a predominantly high subarctic ecoclimate. It is part of the tundra and boreal forest transition, where the latitudinal limits of tree growth are reached. 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 includes the western half of the Bear-Slave Upland, which consists mainly of massive Archean rocks that form broad, sloping uplands, plateaus, and lowlands. The surface is typical of the bare rock parts of the Shield. Numerous lakes fill the lowlands, and rounded rocky hills reach 490 m asl in elevation. Bare rock outcrops are common, and Dystric Brunisols with some Turbic, Static, and Organic Cryosols are the dominant soils in the ecoregion. The soils have formed on discontinuous veneers and blankets of hummocky to rolling, sandy morainal, fluvioglacial, and organic deposits. Permafrost ranges from continuous in the east to extensive discontinuous in the west half of the ecoregion, with low to moderate ice content and sparse ice wedges. Characteristic wildlife includes caribou, moose, grizzly and black bear, snowshoe hare, fox, wolf, beaver, muskrat, osprey, raven, spruce grouse, and waterfowl. Land uses include hunting and trapping, fishing, and tourism. Diamond exploration is a more recent activity along the northern boundary of the region. Principal communities include Snare Lakes and Rae Lakes. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 500.

This ecoregion is part of the Taiga Shield ecozone.