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Taiga Plains  
Boreal Shield  
Map of the Taiga Shield ecozone  

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

This ecozone stretches eastward from the Taiga Plains, just south of the Southern Arctic. It is interrupted by Hudson Bay and the Hudson Plains, but then continues to the Atlantic.

This ecozone has short summers with long days and cold, long winters with long nights. Average annual temperatures are just below freezing, and mean summer temperatures are at most 11ºC. Precipitation ranges from 200mm a year in the west to 1000mm on the Labrador coast.

Geology and Geography
As part of the Canadian Shield, the bedrock here is extremely old, and the region north of Great Slave Lake contains the oldest rock on the planet, over four billion years old. The terrain here is either flat or rolling hills. Advancing and retreating glaciers have scraped the ground bare at several points in the past, and the millions of depressions that have been left are now lakes. Much of the flat lands are temporarily or permanently waterlogged.

Flora and Fauna
A patchwork of wetlands, forests, meadows, and shrublands covers this area. The northern edge of the ecozone is delineated by the tree line, and it is north of this that the more typical arctic tundra begins.

Trees in the Taiga Shield include black spruce, jack pine, green alder, paper birch, willow, tamarack, white spruce, balsam fir, trembling aspen, balsam poplar, white birch, and dwarf birch.

Other plants in the area include ericaceous shrubs, cottongrass, lichen, moss, sedge, sphagnum moss, Labrador tea, feathermoss, northern Labrador tea, yellow pond lily, cattail, water parsnip, water smartweed, water horsetail, water arum, marsh five-finger, ground juniper, kinnikinick, lichens, goldenrod, grass of Parnassus, shrubby cinqfoil, sweet gale, northern commandra, wild rose, wood horsetail, wild chives, twinflower, feathermoss, soapberry, cupidberry, crowberry, bearberry, high-bush cranberry, fireweed, fire snag, rock harlequin, fragrant shield fern, creeping juniper, prickly saxifrage, mountain cranberry, and gooseberry.


About fifty species of mammals are found in the Taiga Shield, including the large herbivores barren-ground caribou, woodland caribou, and moose. Wolves, black and grizzly bears and the lynx are the larger predators. Smaller predators include the coyote, red and arctic fox, muskrat, wolverine, weasel, mink, marten, otter, and least weasel. The smaller herbivores include the
snowshoe hare, beaver, brown lemming, red-backed vole, northern red-backed vole, and red squirrel.

Spring migration brings a multitude of bird species through this region, including various ducks, geese, loons and swans. Some stay, but others continue north to the arctic to breed. Representative birds of prey are the osprey and
bald eagle. Shorebirds and seabirds found here include northern phalarope, Bonaparte’s gull, arctic tern, greater scaup, mew gull, Characteristic waterfowl are the arctic, pacific, and red-throated loons, red-breasted merganser, and the green-winged teal. Forest birds in the ecozone include northern shrike, tree sparrow, gray-cheeked thrush, raven, red-breasted merganser, red-winged blackbird, yellow warbler, common redpoll, white-crowned sparrow, flicker, and yellow-rumped warbler. Two representative ground-dwelling birds are the spruce grouse and willow ptarmigan.

Reptiles and Amphibians
Three species of amphibians, the mink frog, wood frog, and blue-spotted salamander live here, but there are no reptiles.

The American copper butterfly is found here, as are the molluscs muskeg stagnicola, arctic-alpine fingernail clam, and globular pea clam.

This ecozone is more developed than others to the north of it, thanks to hydroelectric development and mining. It is also more densely populated, with 340 000 people, 60% of whom are First Nations. Settlements along the coast arose during the time of the fur trade, but later settlement has been largely dictated by mining. Most of the urban areas still have untouched land nearby, and subsistence activities such as hunting, trapping and fishing are still common.


Taiga PlainsBoreal Shield

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