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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion stretches westward from Seal River in Manitoba to near the East Arm Hills in the Northwest Territories. It is marked by cool summers and very cold winters. The mean annual temperature is approximately -8°C. The mean summer temperature is 8°C and the mean winter temperature is -24.5°C. The mean annual precipitation ranges from over 200 mm in the north to over 400 mm in northern Manitoba. The ecoregion is classified as having a high subarctic ecoclimate. It is part of the broad area of tundra and boreal forest transition extending from Labrador to Alaska. The predominant vegetation consists of open, very stunted stands of black spruce and tamarack with secondary quantities of white spruce, a shrub layer of dwarf birch, willow, and ericaceous shrubs, and a ground cover of cottongrass, lichen, and moss. Drier sites can be dominated by open stands of white spruce, ericaceous shrubs, and a ground cover of mosses and lichens. Poorly drained sites usually support tussock vegetation of sedge, cottongrass, and sphagnum moss. Low shrub tundra vegetation, consisting of dwarf birch and willow, is also common. Crystalline, massive Archean rocks form broad, sloping uplands and lowlands. Ridged to hummocky bedrock outcrops covered with discontinuous acidic, sandy, granitic till are characteristic. Prominent eskers and small to medium-sized lakes are common. Dystric Brunisols commonly occurring on sandy eskers are the dominant soils. Turbic Cryosolic soils are common in permanently frozen sites. Organic Cryosols are typical of wetlands. Patterned ground is widespread, and mineral soils exhibit discontinuous or distorted soil horizon development. Permafrost is almost continuous and has low to medium ice content. It is only in the very southern margins of the ecoregion that it grades into extensive discontinuous permafrost. Ice wedges are sparse throughout. Characteristic wildlife includes barren-ground caribou, arctic fox, wolf, wolverine, weasel, otter, mink, snowshoe hare, and brown lemming. Bird species in the region include rock and willow ptarmigan, sandhill crane and waterfowl. Land use activities are limited to fishing, trapping and hunting, some recreation and tourism.

This ecoregion is part of the Taiga Shield ecozone.