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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion includes the southern continental tundra covering the George Plateau and several other mountainous outcrops, including the Mealy Mountains (81), south of Lake Melville. It is marked by cool summers and very cold winters. The mean annual temperature is approximately -4°C. The mean summer temperature is 6.5°C and the mean winter temperature is -15°C. The mean annual precipitation ranges from 600 mm in the east up to 800 mm in the west. In the Mealy Mountains the maritime influence provides a slightly warmer and more moist climate; precipitation can exceed 1000 mm annually and temperatures are approximately 2°C higher. This ecoregion is classified as having a high subarctic ecoclimate. It is part of an old erosion surface that is composed of massive Archean granites, granitic gneiss, and acidic intrusives. Hummocky and drumlinized upper surfaces are covered by discontinuous, bouldery, sandy morainal veneers. Significant soil inclusions are Ferro-Humic Podzols, Organic Mesisols, and Turbic and Organic Cryosols. Permafrost is extensive and discontinuous with low to moderate ice content in the northern third of the ecoregion, and grades southward to a sporadic discontinuous pattern near the Smallwood Reservoir. Continuous vegetation occurs only in depressions where snow accumulates and provides moisture throughout the growing season. Shallow fen palsas with permanently frozen peat in the control section occupy rounded and fluted microtopography on the plateau. Bare rock and tundra, and alpine heath of lichens, mosses, and sedges, each comprise about 50% of the upper surfaces. White birch/willow thickets growing on less stable scree frequently form a transition zone between tundra and very open spruce forests. Dwarf, open black spruce, dwarf mixed evergreen deciduous shrubs, and moss are dominant on bogs and poorly drained sites. This ecoregion provides important habitat for caribou, small mammals, waterfowl, and other birds. Resources provide opportunities for hunting and trapping, and recreation.

This ecoregion is part of the Taiga Shield ecozone.