What are Canada’s “Ecoregions”? Find Yours.
An ecoregion is part of a province characterized by distinctive regional ecological factors, including climate, physiography, vegetation, soil, water, fauna and land use.
Within each ecoregion you may encounter more than one habitat or community type. Each community can be characterized by specific elements and plant associations.
A plant community having over 60% tree canopy cover. Forest communities are actually made up of seven layers of large and small trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants and vines. The three types of forest communities include deciduous, mixed and coniferous.
A tree community with 20-60% canopy cover. Woodlands are made up of a variety of tree and understory species, depending on their stage of development (from pioneer to climax), their moisture regime, and their soil type.
A grassland community with approximately 10% canopy cover, consisting of oak, cedar and pine.
An edge community is a naturally occurring transitional community between two community types. Edge is most frequently associated with forests. Edge communities play a key role in protecting the integrity of natural plant communities and provide important habitat for many wildlife species.
An ecological community made up of native grasses and wildflowers. In Canada, three prairie communities can be found: the short grass and mixed grass prairies found in the Western plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta and the tallgrass prairie found in southern Ontario and Manitoba.
Typically thought of as a transitional community of wildflowers and some grasses. Of the three types of meadow communities found throughout Canada: wet meadow, dry meadow and old field meadow, only old field meadow (found on disturbed sites and abandoned agricultural land) is a true transitional community. The fluctuating moisture levels associated with wet meadows and the parched soil conditions of a dry meadow make it difficult for trees to become established in these communities.
Areas of relatively flat limestone bedrock where soils were long ago scraped away by ice, wind and water. They support a distinctive set of plants - uncommon wildflowers, mosses and lichens, many kinds of grasses and sedges, and some stunted trees.
Form as shallow depressions or lakes that gradually fill in with silt or decaying material, or are the result of frequent flooding along lakeshores, riverbanks or coasts. The five main types of wetlands are:
Characterized by shallow water ranging in depth from approximately 10 centimetres to two metres, in which an abundance of herbaceous plants grow.
Consist of deciduous or coniferous trees, wetland shrubs and herbaceous plants that have adapted to having their roots submerged by water during periodic flooding.
Result from the decaying material in or alongside open wetlands. This material forms as peat rather than soil because the poor drainage and high acidity prevent the growth of bacteria and decomposers required to turn organic matter into soil. The peat generally covers a layer of standing water.
A younger phase of bog development, or are found where free-running groundwater is exposed, allowing for decomposition to occur. Fen communities are indicative of more alkaline conditions.
Ponds, sloughs and prairie potholes are isolated bodies of water in clearly defined basins that are fed by surface water, a shallow water table or springs. They are deeper and contain more water than marshes, but are smaller than lakes and are not necessarily full of water year-round.
Riparian communities are found immediately adjacent to rivers and streams. The specific plants that make up these communities have adapted to the hydrology, nutrient-rich soils and microclimate associated with the transition area between water and land. Riparian communities are natural buffers, maintaining water quality through reducing erosion, filtering sedimentation, slowing the flow of water, and absorbing excess nutrients and contaminants from urban runoff.
The part of a lake that is above the present water level and is exposed when the water levels are low.
The part of the coast adjacent to the ocean that is above the present water level
A region that receives an average annual rainfall of less than 25cm. The polar desert's harsh climate and short growing season eliminates all but the hardiest plants: lichens, which grow on rack and between stones. This is a cold desert that receives only 7-10 centimetres of rain a year - less than what falls in some parts of the Sahara.
The mountainous zone between coniferous forest and barren rocky peaks. Due to the long cold winters, short cool summers and high winds, this community is characterized by low shrubs, herbaceous plants, mosses and lichens that can withstand extreme temperature ranges and desiccation.
Northern treeless plain. It has a short growing season followed by snow, low light and melt-freeze cycles. In Inuktitut, Tundra means 'nothing'. The Tundra has no trees, but you will find sedges, more than 100 species of wildflowers and many low bushes such as willows, cranberries and blueberries.