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The Boreal Plains are found in the centre of Alberta, extending east
through the centre of Saskatchewan and slightly south of centre Manitoba.
A more northerly extension of the Prairie ecozone to its south, the
Boreal Plains ecozone endures mean annual temperatures of around freezing.
Summers are short and warm, winters cold. The Rocky Mountains block
much of the moisture, resulting in precipitation of 300mm in the west
to 625mm in the east.
Glaciers from many ice ages
have flattened the landscape, and the large ancient lakes that resulted
from their meltwater have left many dunes and are still present in many
cases as smaller lakes.
or slightly rolling terrain is the rule here, and thick soil deposits
overlay Cretaceous shale bedrock.
Much of the Boreal
Plains are covered with forests despite heavy logging. Fires are common,
and many species are very well adapted to them. Dominant tree species
include white spruce,
jack pine, tamarack,
alaska paper birch,
and balsam poplar.
The deciduous species are most commonly found in the south, the coniferous
species to the north. The Saskatoon
berry bush is one of the other plant species found here.
logging has reduced the population and ranges of many species. Wetlands
and rivers have also suffered from pollution, increased water use and
other human activities.
Large carnivores in the ecozone include the black
The most common large herbivores are elk,
Smaller carnivores include the coyote,
There are many rodents, such as the northern
pocket gopher, beaver,
ground squirrel, franklin
ground squirrel, least
and snowshoe hare.
Characteristic birds of prey include the great
horned owl, boreal
owl, northern saw-whet
owl, Cooper's hawk,
and turkey vulture.
Some of the songbirds found here are the blue
purple finch, brown
wren, and the common
crow. Some other birds of the forest are ruffed
woodpecker, and pileated
woodpecker. Waterfowl include Franklin’s
white pelican, common
grebe, wood duck,
Canada goose, and
which nest in wetlands in the extreme north of the ecozone.
Amphibians and reptiles
Two of the amphibian species here are the wood
frog and american
toad. The common
garter snake can also be found.
Predatory fish here include lake
trout, lake trout,
northern pike, and
walleye. They prey
on such species as cisco
(lake herring), lake
lake chub, emerald
shiner, and yellow
A few of the insect species found here are the boreal
cloak, and American
Two species of
molluscs found in the Boreal Plains are the arctic-alpine
fingernail clam and the globular
When first settled, the Boreal Plains were important for trading companies
and the fur trade. For the past fifty years oil and gas has been the
major economic focus in Alberta. Other natural resources have been important
as well, especially forestry. The three-quarters of a million people
who live in this ecozone are scattered in small communities rather than
the larger urban concentrations found in most southern ecozones.
Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park, Alberta
Island National Park
of Valleyview, Alberta
Buffalo National Park