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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion occurs on Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands and is characterized by low species diversity and sparse vegetative cover. Mean annual temperature is approximately -16°C. The mean summer temperature is -0.5°C and the mean winter temperature is -28.5°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges from less than 100 to 200 mm, with the greatest values falling in the Nansen Sound area. This ecoregion is classified as having a high arctic ecoclimate. Clumps of moss, lichen, and cold-hardy vascular plants such as sedge and cottongrass are the dominant vegetation. Arctic willow and Dryas spp. occur infrequently. The region occurs as two curving belts of mountainous terrain separated by the more subdued Eureka Upland. The first portion of the ecoregion lies along the northwest coasts of Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands (map polygon 8), where ice-covered mountains that can reach 2500 m asl are composed mainly of folded Mesozoic and Palaeozoic strata with minor igneous intrusions. Along the east coast of Ellesmere Island (map polygon 10), the mountains blend with decreasing ruggedness into the elevated dissected edge of Victoria and Albert mountains. The ranges and ridges are transected by numerous steep-walled valleys and fjords with glaciers. Continuous, low ice content permafrost occurs along the north and east coasts of Ellesmere Island. In the southern part of map polygon 8, the permafrost is continuous, and ice wedges and massive ice bodies are common. Regosolic Static and Regosolic Turbic Cryosols are the dominant soils that have developed on colluvial, alluvial, and marine sediments. Characteristic wildlife includes muskox, arctic hare, arctic fox, lemming, and caribou. Polar bears are common in coastal areas. Representative birds include king eider, rock ptarmigan, northern fulmar, plover, hoary redpoll, and snow bunting. Marine mammals include walrus, seal, and whale. There are no permanent settlements within the ecoregion, however there is some seasonal recreational land use activity associated with Ellesmere Island National Park Reserve.

This ecoregion is part of the Northern Arctic ecozone.