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Taiga Cordillera  
Pacific Maritime  
Map of the Boreal Cordillera ecozone  

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

This ecozone contains the mountainous southern Yukon and northern British Columbia.

The mountains in the west of the Boreal Cordillera stop much of the precipitation that would normally fall, so the region tends towards dryness, with less than 300 mm of precipitation in the west. Precipitation rises to the east, with up to 1500 mm falling on some slopes. From one third to two-thirds of the precipitation falls as snow. Average winter temperatures are -18C, while the short summer averages 10C.

Geology and Geography
Mountains and plateaus are the dominant features, separated by lowlands and valleys. Debris and deposits from glaciers cover the plateaus and valleys, and even the lower slopes of the mountains have deposits.

Photo: Dominic Collins

Flora and Fauna
Trees grow in the lowlands and on the lower slopes. As elevation increses, trees become stunted and above the treeline only shrubs, moss, lichen and herbs are found. Much of the upper slopes is bare rock, snow and ice. Trees of the area include white spruce, black spruce, Engelmann spruce, alpine fir, lodgepole pine, whitebark pine, trembling aspen, balsam poplar, white birch, water birch, scrub birch, and Bebb willow. Some of the other plants in the ecozone are Labrador tea, mountain aven, eriacaceous shrubs, sphagnum moss, cottongrass, and mountain hemlock.

Some of the large herbivores are caribou, moose, Dalls sheep, mountain goat, and bison. Large carnivores that are found here include black bear, grizzly bear, lynx, and wolf. The smaller herbivores include hoary marmot, woodchuck, arctic ground squirrel, beaver, brown lemming, collared lemming, American pika, and snowshoe hare. Smaller carnivores such as marten, least weasel, river otter, striped skunk, mink, coyote, muskrat, and red fox are found here.

Some of the characteristic birds of prey are the snowy owl, boreal owl, short-eared owl, northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, Swainson's hawk, and common nighthawk. Shorebirds and seabirds that can be found here include common snipe, wandering tattler, herring gull, mew gull, and Bonaparte's gull. The birds of the forest include willow ptarmigan, rock ptarmigan, white-tailed ptarmigan, blue grouse, spruce grouse, ruffed grouse, northern flicker, and downy woodpecker. Waterfowl such as northern pintail, blue-winged teal, mallard, canvasback, and Canada goose can be found in the Boreal Cordillera. The songbirds of the area include raven, red-winged blackbird, purple finch, American dipper, rusty blackbird, common yellowthroat, and varied thrush.

Amphibians and Reptiles
Although the climate here is too hostile for most amplibian and reptile species the wood frog can be found.

Predatory species such as the northern pike prey on species that include lake whitefish and white chub. Several species, including white sturgeon, pink salmon, chum salmon, coho salmon, and sockeye salmon, come inland to spawn.

Three of the molluscs found here are the valve snail, muskeg stagnicola, and arctic-alpine fingernail clam.

Mining has historically been economically important for this ecozone, the Klondike gold rush being the best known incident. Most mines have closed down recently, and forestry is becoming more important. Wherever mines have been, their toxic tailings and environmental damage have long-lasting effects.

Kluane Lake, Yukon
Kluane Lake, Yukon
Kluane Lake, Yukon
Kluane Lake, Yukon
Sheep Mountain, Kluane National Park, Yukon
Sheep Mountain, Kluane National Park, Yukon
Kaskawulsh Glacier, Kluane National Park, Yukon
Marsh near Kluane National Park, Yukon
Alpine valley, central Yukon
Alpine valley, central Yukon
Mountains in Yukon
Glacier, Yukon
Snag Lake, Yukon
View from Keno Mountain, Yukon
Small stream near Whitehorse, Yukon
Spruce forest near Whitehorse, Yukon
Yukon River, near Whitehorse, Yukon
Regrowth on old gold diggings, Dawson City, Yukon
Falls in White Pass, British Columbia
Near White Pass, British Columbia
Mount Fairweather, British Columbia's highest peak
Stone Mountain Provincial Park, British Columbia
Near Cassiar Highway, British Columbia
Chilkat Pass, British Columbia
Warm Stream, Atlin, British Columbia


Taiga CordilleraPacific Maritime

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