Back to the ecozone list  
Boreal Shield  
Mixedwood Plains  
Map of the Atlantic Maritime ecozone  

Location | Climate | Geology and geography | Flora and fauna | Humans | Images

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are completely within the Atlantic Maritime ecozone, along with the Gaspe peninsula.

Covering Quebec's Gaspé peninsula and the entirety of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, this ecozone's climate is strongly influence by the Atlantic Ocean, which produces cooler summers and warmer winters. Winter temperatures average -5ºC and summers average 14ºC, with coastal areas having slightly warmer winters and cooler summers than inland. The Atlantic also provides moisture to the region, producing mean precipitation of 900mm a year inland and over 1500mm a year on the coast; this high precipitation also means that the region has more storms than anywhere else in the country.

Geology and Geography
Photo: Sara LourieGeologically, this region is a mix of sedimentary and igneous bedrock. Inhospitable igneous highlands form much of the interior of the many peninsulas that form this ecozone. Acid soils found here support vast forests, but are poor for agriculture, and the cold wet climate prevents many people from living in this part of the ecozone. The coastal lowlands, overlying sedimentary bedrock, are far more accessible, have better soils for agriculture, and a milder climate. Not surprisingly, the lowlands are where most of the ecozone's human population lives.

Flora and Fauna
Little old growth forest remains in this ecozone after centuries of farming and agriculture. Nevertheless, it is very densely forested with second- and third-growth forests. The forests include such conifers as red spruce, black spruce, white spruce, balsam fir, red pine, jack pine, eastern white pine, tamarack, eastern white cedar, and eastern hemlock. The deciduous trees here include yellow birch, white birch, paper birch, sugar maple, red maple, striped maple, balsam poplar, pin cherry, speckled alder, beech, black ash, white ash, butternut, ironwood, basswood, white elm, and red oak. Just a few of the other plants in the Atlantic Maritime are the steeplebush, blueberry, sphagnum moss, kalmia heath, smooth serviceberry (smooth juneberry), violets, wild lupins, starflower, trailing arbutus, lady slipper, pitcher plant, ostrich fern, and purple loosestrife, which was introduced and has become quite a problem in the area's waterways.

The only large carnivores found here are the black bear, lynx, and bobcat. The most common large herbivores are the whitetail deer and moose. Small carnivores in the area include red fox, muskrat, raccoon, striped skunk, marten, fisher, coyote, mink and river otter. Many small herbivores, including the eastern chipmunk, beaver, porcupine, snowshoe hare, northern flying squirrel, woodchuck, and southern bog lemming. The numerous species of aquatic mammals found in the waters off the coast are extremely popular among tourists, and include harbour seal, gray seal, hooded seal, harp seal, orca, northern bottlenosed whale, and blue whale.

Characteristic birds of prey include osprey, Cooper's hawk, broad-winged hawk, common nighthawk, northern goshawk, northern saw-whet owl, short-eared owl, and long-eared owl. A few of the many songbirds are the red-winged blackbird, ruby-throated hummingbird, cedar waxwing, whip-poor-will, purple finch, brown creeper, black-billed cuckoo, blue jay, eastern bluebird, rose-crested grosbeak, and cardinal. Other birds of the forest include the ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, northern flicker, downy woodpecker, and pileated woodpecker. Waterfowl include the great blue heron, Canada goose, American bittern, common snipe, ring-necked duck, wood duck, American black duck, northern pintail, and blue-winged teal. Seabirds and shorebirds of the Atlantic Maritime ecozone include the great cormorant, double-crested cormorant, Atlantic puffin, common murre, thick-billed murre, black guillemot, razorbill, herring gull,
spotted sandpiper, common snipe, and killdeer.

Reptiles and Amphibians
Frogs and toads of the region are the American toad, northern leopard frog, mink frog, green frog, pickerel frog, wood frog, and the tiny but extremely vocal spring peeper. Five species of salamanders and newt are found here: yellow-spotted salamander, blue-spotted salamander, dusky salamander, eastern redback salamander, and eastern newt. There are more species of marine turtles (loggerhead turtle, leatherback turtle, and Atlantic ridley) than freshwater turtles (common snapping turtle and wood turtle) here. All four species of snakes are harmless to humans. They include the maritime garter snake, smooth green snake, redbelly snake, and ringneck snake.

Some of the predatory fish of the ecozone are brook trout and Atlantic tomcod. They prey upon the rainbow smelt, golden shiner, common shiner, creek chub, and mummichog, among others. A few of the marine species that return to freshwater to spawn include sea lamprey, Atlantic sturgeon, alewife, Atlantic salmon, and American eel. Species that are found in the marine waters off the coast are covered in the Atlantic Marine and Northwest Atlantic Marine ecozones.

The waters of the region are well known for their many lobster, crab and shrimp fisheries.

A few of the species found here are the brown mystery snail, valve snail, ordinary spire snail, eastern physa, and eastern elliptio. In addition, the waters off the coast are known for their clams and scallops.

Some of the insects in the Atlantic Maritime, both famous and obscure, are the
German cockroach, American cockroach, eastern metallic green wood borer, European earwig, boreal spittlebug, spring azure, American copper, monarch butterfly, mourning cloak, eastern black swallowtail, and migratory grasshopper.

Fishing was the base of the economy in this ecozone for centuries, until overfishing caused the crash of several major fish stocks. Agriculture is only possible where good soil is available (potato farms on PEI are the most famous), but is still an important part of the economy. Forestry has also been important economically, and most of the forests here have been logged at least once. Half of the 2.5 million people who live here live in rural areas, far above the national average.

Blacks Harbour, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
From Louisbourg Lighthouse, Nova Scotia
Gooseberry Bay, Nova Scotia
Gooseberry Bay, Nova Scotia
Gooseberry Bay, Nova Scotia
Gooseberry Bay, Nova Scotia
Gooseberry Bay, Nova Scotia
Near Louisbourg Lighthouse, Nova Scotia
Island Near Louisbourg, Nova Scotia
Near Louisbourg, Nova Scotia
Near Louisbourg, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Lakes
Near Louisbourg Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

Boreal ShieldMixedwood Plains

Back to the ecozone list