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Boreal Cordillera  
Map of the Taiga Cordillera ecozone  

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

This ecozone extends along most of the border between the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

The Taiga Cordillera contains the northernmost of the Rocky mountains in Canada and also some of its highest waterfalls, deepest canyons and wildest rivers. Mountains block much of the precipitation, which averages 250 to 300mm per year. Its northerly position gives it cold winters (-22ºC average temperature) with very short days and short cool summers (average temperature 8ºC). Snow lasts on the ground for six to eight months of the year.

Geology and Geography
Most of the ecozone is covered with steep mountains and narrow valleys, although the northwest contains wetlands and rolling hills and the north contains tundra; this tundra is above the treeline, so only smaller plants are found there.

Flora and Fauna
Location on the slopes of the ecozone determines which plants are to be found. Western-facing slopes recieve more precipitation than those that face the east, while southern slopes are warmer, brighter and drier than north-facing slopes. Distinct zones also occur as altitude increases.
Some of the trees found here include paper birch, alpine fir, lodgepole pine, black spruce, white spruce, trembling aspen, balsam poplar, water birch, Alaska paper birch, blue-green willow, Bebb willow, and net-veined willow.
Other plants include mountain aven, eriacaceous shrubs, sedge, cottongrass, Labrador tea, fire snag, larkspur, forget-me-not, wooly lousewort, arnica, hedysarum, white camas, purple mountain saxifrage, yellow mountain saxifrage, alpine bearberry, arctic white heather, alpine bearberry and prickly saxifrage.

As with the plants, the animal species to be found depend upon their location in the ecozone. Alpine regions, lowland forests and wetlands all have characteristic species.

Large carnivores that are found here include black bear, grizzly bear, wolf and lynx. The large herbivores include
Dall’s sheep, caribou, moose, and mountain goat. Small carnivores such as coyote, red fox, least weasel, mink, wolverine, muskrat, and marten can be found here, preying in part on arctic ground squirrel, American pika, hoary marmot, beaver, and brown lemming.

Some of the characteristic birds of prey are
gyrfalcon, golden eagle, bald eagle, osprey, northern goshawk, boreal owl, short-eared owl, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier, American kestrel, and merlin. Shorebirds and seabirds that are found here include spotted sandpiper, common snipe, wandering tattler, herring gull, and mew gull. The songbirds of the Taiga cordillera include common redpoll, rusty blackbird, gray-cheeked thrush, tree swallow, dark-eyed junco, varied thrush, raven, white-winged crossbill, Lincoln’s sparrow, Townsend’s solitaire, water pipit, violet-green swallow, and gray jay. Waterfowl such as Canada geese, northern pintail, mallard, canvasback, and arctic loon are found here. Ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, northern flicker, willow ptarmigan, rock ptarmigan, and white-tailed ptarmigan are some of the birds of the forest.

Amphibians and Reptiles
The Taiga Cordillera is too far north for amphibians and reptiles.

Predators such as the northern pike feed on species including lake whitefish and lake chub. Chinook salmon and chum salmon come in from the ocean to spawn.

Two of the mollusc species found in this ecozone are the muskeg stagnicola and arctic-alpine fingernail clam.

Only a few hundred people live here, and subsistence activities are the norm. Otherwise, there is some tourism, but no major urban centres or industries exist here.


PrairiesBoreal Cordillera

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