| Climate | Geology and geography
| Flora and fauna | Humans
The Taiga Plains are centered around the Mackenzie River in the western
Northwest Territories, bordered by the mountains to the west, the arctic
to the east, and the boreal forests of the boreal plains to the south.
Like the Taiga Shield to its east, the Taiga Plains has short, cool
summers and long, cold winters. Mean summer temperatures range from
7șC in the north to 14șC in the south. Winter brings averages of -26șC
in the Mackenzie delta and a relatively mild -15șC in the portion contained
in Alberta and British Columbia. Snow and freshwater ice lasts for six
to eight months, and permafrost is widespread. There is generally little
rainfall here, only 200-500mm a year.
this ecozone is primarily horizontally layered sedimentary rock; limestone,
shale, and sandstone. The largest river in the country, the Mackenzie,
flows through this ecozone and dominates its west, while the east is
in turn dominated by the Great Slave and Great Bear lakes. Most of the
terrain is flat or slightly rolling, but where the river or its tributaries
have cut through the ground, canyons hundreds of metres deep can be
found. The permafrost leads to large areas being waterlogged and remnants
of glacier activity make the landscape more varied.
Fires are fairly common, and many species are especially adapted to
it, resulting in a patchwork of forest types where each patch is at
a different stage of recovery from fire. Trees in the Taiga Plains include
balsam poplar, lodgepole
pine, jack pine,
and balsam fir.
Some of the smaller plants that grow here are fire snag, wild rose,
Labrador tea, bearberry, sedges, eriacaceous shrubs, cottongrass, moss,
sphagnum moss, feathermoss, bog cranberry, and blueberry.
are the only large carnivores to be found here; smaller carnivores include
Large herbivores include woodland
caribou, while snowshow
ground squirrel are some of the smaller herbivores.
Some of the most common birds of prey here, the bald
falcon, and osprey,
are fish-eaters, though the hawk owl is not. Waterfowl, most of whom
migrate to the Taiga Plains in spring and summer, include the red-throated
and all manner of other ducks, geese and swans. Some ground-dwelling
birds are the sharp-tailed
grouse and willow
ptarmigan, while some common birds of the forest include the raven,
raven, and common
Reptiles and Amphibians
This region is too far north for reptiles, but the western
chorus frog, wood
frog can be found here.
Fish that can be found in the lakes and rivers of the region include
arctic lamprey, lake trout, lake and mountain whitefish, arctic cisco,
longnose sucker, arctic grayling, dolly varden, burbot, walleye, and
The large numbers of insects in this ecozone provide food for the insectivorous
birds that come here to feed and breed. Molluscs like the muskeg
fingernail clam, and globular
pea clam live in the waters of this ecozone.
Most settlements in the Taiga Plains are located by rivers, and most
of the landscape has been virtually untouched by human activity. A majority
of the 22 000 people who live here make their living through subsistence
activities, but petroleum exploration, mining, and forestry also take
pond, Keg River, Alberta
pond and lodge, Keg River, Alberta