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The Arctic Cordillera
runs along the northeastern fringe of Nunavut and Labrador, notably
on Ellesmere and Baffin Islands.
This ecozone is one of the most inhospitable in Canada. Summer temperatures
range from -2 degrees in the mountains of Ellesmere Island to 6 degrees
in northern Labrador, but winter brings temperatures as low as -35║C
in the north. Precipitation is commonly snow, and the north has an average
of only 200mm of precipitation a year, although in Labrador it can reach
as much as 600mm annually. Although winter is long and dark, the short
growing season is aided by the extremely long days come summer.
soaring mountain peaks and desolate valleys, the northern extent of
this ecozone contains mountains that exceed two kilometres in height,
some of the highest in the country. This is the only major mountain
chain in Eastern Canada. Precambrian rock is the major component of
the bedrock. The drier northern section is largely covered with ice
caps while glaciers are common at the more humid southern end.
Not much can grow in the harsh conditions, where killing frosts can
come at any time during the year and even soil is rare. Three-quarters
of the land here is bare rock; and even lichen have a hard time of it.
Trees here are barely recognizable stunted versions of themselves. Plants
that do grow here are usually tiny species that often grow in thick
insulating mats to protect themselves from the cold or are covered in
thick hairs that help to insulate and to protect them from the bitter
Some of the plant species
found are arctic black spruce, arctic willow, cottongrass, kobresia,
moss species, wood rush, wire rush, purple saxifrage, Dryas species,
sedges, Diapensia, arctic poppy, mountain avens, mountain sorrel,
river beauty, moss campion, bilberry, and arctic white heather.
The conditions here are far too harsh for reptiles and amphibians
to survive, and insects are also rare here.
and barren-ground caribou are the only large herbivores in this ecosystem,
bears and the
arctic wolf are the only large carnivores to be found here. Smaller
herbivores include the arctic
hare and the collared
weasels and ermines
are some of the smaller carnivores found here. Marine mammals include
The furry-legged rock
ptarmigan is a common bird in this desolate place. Characteristic
birds of prey include the gyrfalcon
and snowy owl.
Some of the more common shore- and seabirds are the thick-billed
ringed plover, little ringed plover and northern
fulmar. Songbirds found in the Arctic Cordillera include the hoary
bunting, and lapland
longspur. The snow
and king eider,
loon are some species of waterfowl that live here.
Only about a thousand people live permanently in this region and most
of the population is Inuit. Most people live through subsistence activities,
such as hunting, trapping and fishing, although gas and oil exploration
also provide a living for some.
Inlet, Baffin Island
tongue, Ellesmere Island
Fjord, Axel Heiberg Island