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Taiga Plain

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Map Legend & Subregion List

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NameColor on MapCEC Code*
Great Bear Plains3.3.1
Hay and Slave River Lowlands3.3.2

* This code refers to the CEC's Level 3 ecoregion codes for North America, see here.

About the Taiga Plain

The Taiga Plain or Taiga Plains is a Canadian ecozone (equivalent to a US EPA Level II ecoregion) Much of the Western portion of this region is located in the valley of the Mackenzie river in Northwest Territories, northeastern British Colombia, and Northern Alberta. The river is the most important feature in this region; it and its tributaries carve out deep canyons, leading to a rugged topography even as parts of the region are flatter on a larger scale. The east of the region extends to the Great Bear Lake and the Great Slave Lake, the two largest lakes entirely within the border of Canada.

Runoff flowing into the Mackenzie river following spring thaws is substantial, due to the low temperatures reducing evapotranspiration, and permafrost which prevents water from sinking into the soil. Flows usually peak in June, and are lowest in March, with smaller side-streams having a complete loss of flow due to freezing.

Much of this region is covered by either open forests of black spruce and larch, or dense shrublands, with the forests more common and richer at lower elevations, and mostly giving way to shrublands at higher elevations. Fire plays an important role in forest maintenance in this region, with the densest forest in regions that have burned recently.

To the east this region is bordered by the Taiga Shield, which begins roughly at the eastern shores of the Great Bear and Great Slave lakes. To the north lies the more barren Southern Arctic, to the west, the more mountainous Taiga Cordillera, and to the south, the Boreal Plain.