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Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands

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Map Legend & Subregion List

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NameColor on MapEPA Code*
Erie/Ontario Lake Plain83a
Champlain Lowlands83b
Ontario Lowlands83c
St. Lawrence Lowlands83d
Upper St. Lawrence Valley83e
Mohawk Valley83f

* This code refers to the US EPA's Level 4 ecoregion codes for the continental U.S., see here.

About the Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands

The Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands is a region including a broad range of lowlands in the eastern portion of the Great Lakes. It extends from the areas surrounding the St. Lawrence river, through the islands in the middle of Lake Huron, the areas southeast from Lake Huron and north of Lake Ontario, to areas south and east of Lake Ontario, and a narrow strip along the southern shore of Lake Erie. Most of the region is located in southern Ontario and Quebec, and northern New York State.

This region has a humid continental climate with severe winters and warm summers, but a strong moderating effect from the lakes. Relative to more upland areas like the Erie Drift Plain, lake effect moderates the climate of this region more, but increases its precipitation (especially snowfall) less. Lake Ontario is much deeper than lakes Huron and Erie, and thus Lake Ontario freezes less. This leads it to produce a stronger lake effect on climate than the other two lakes.

The terrain is mostly flat to gently rolling, but there are some glacial deposits and rock outcroppings. There are abundant rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

Originally this area was mostly covered in mixed coniferous-deciduous forests. Nowadays what forests remain are mostly dominated by sugar maple, yellow birch, eastern hemlock, American basswood, and eastern white pine. Dominants on drier sites include red oak, red pine, eastern white pine, and eastern redcedar. On wet sites, dominant trees are red maple, black ash, white spruce, tamarack/larch, and northern white-cedar.

This area has been intensely developed for agriculture, and agriculture here is quite diversified, with ample dairy production, and also corn and other grains, soybeans, hay, and various fruits and vegetables. There are quite a few vineyards in the region. This area is also heavily urbanized, containing the downtown of Cleveland, Ohio, as well as the whole metro areas of Quebec City and Montreal, and in New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and many smaller cities. Significant forest cover remains, but it is mostly highly fragmented, existing as small pieces interspersed with farms and urbanization, often further separated by roads.

Due to the peculiar shape of this region, it borders many different regions in different sections.

References

1. Wiken, E., Griffith, G. "North American Terrestrial Ecoregions - Level III", Commission for Environmental Cooperation, (2011) Web.