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Taiga Plains Ecozone+ Evidence for Key Findings Summary

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Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010

Evidence for Key Findings Summary Report No. 13
Published by the Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers

Document Information

Cover photo

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Taiga Plains Ecozone+ evidence for key findings summary.

Issued also in French under title:
Sommaire des éléments probants relativement aux constatations clés pour l'écozone+ de la taiga des plaines.
Electronic monograph in PDF format.
ISBN 978-1-100-22400-8
Cat. no.: En14-43/0-13-2013E-PDF

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Cover photo: boreal caribou, Gwich’in Settlement Area. Photo by John A. Nagy, provided by Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT)

This report should be cited as:
ESTR Secretariat. 2013. Taiga Plains Ecozone+ evidence for key findings summary. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Evidence for Key Findings Summary Report No. 13. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. vii + 109 p. Technical Reports

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2013
Aussi disponible en français

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The Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers developed a Biodiversity Outcomes FrameworkReference 1 in 2006 to focus conservation and restoration actions under the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy.Reference 2 Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010Reference 3 was the first report under this framework. It presents 22 key findings that emerged from synthesis and analysis of background technical reports prepared on the status and trends for many cross-cutting national themes (the Technical Thematic Report Series) and for individual terrestrial and marine ecozones+ of Canada (the Ecozone+ Status and Trends Assessments). More than 500 experts participated in data analysis, writing, and review of these foundation documents. Summary reports for each terrestrial Ecozone+ present Ecozone+-specific evidence related to each of the 22 national key findings (the Evidence for Key Findings Summary Report Series). Together, the full complement of these products constitutes the 2010 Ecosystem Status and Trends Report (ESTR):

2010 Ecosystem Status and Trends Report (ESTR)
Graphic of 2010 ecosystem status and trends report instead. Please review all sections with images and update alt tag accordingly

This report, Taiga Plains Ecozone+ Evidence for Key Findings Summary, presents evidence from the Taiga Plains Ecozone+ Status and Trends Assessment related to the 22 national key findings and is therefore not a comprehensive assessment of all ecosystem-related information. The level of detail presented on each key finding varies and important issues or datasets may have been missed. As in all ESTR products, the time frames over which trends are assessed vary – both because time frames that are meaningful for these diverse aspects of ecosystems vary and because the assessment is based on the best available information, which is over a range of time periods.

There have been extensive environmental impact assessments conducted in this Ecozone+ in relation to oil and gas exploration and transportation proposals. The baseline studies conducted for the Mackenzie Gas ProjectReference 4 are a source of compiled research and monitoring for parts of the Taiga Plains Ecozone+. Some results from this work have been included, but the scope and timing of the report precluded extensive use of this resource.

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Ecological classification system – ecozones+

A slightly modified version of the Terrestrial Ecozones of Canada, described in the National Ecological Framework for Canada,Reference 5 provided the ecosystem-based units for all reports related to this project. Modifications from the original framework include: adjustments to terrestrial boundaries to reflect improvements from ground-truthing exercises; the combination of three Arctic ecozones into one; the use of two ecoprovinces – Western Interior Basin and Newfoundland Boreal; the addition of nine marine ecosystem-based units; and, the addition of the Great Lakes as a unit. This modified classification system is referred to as “ecozones+” throughout these reports to avoid confusion with the more familiar “ecozones” of the original framework.Reference 6 Changes made for the Taiga Plains, based on ground-truthing: (1) reduce the area along its boundary with the Taiga Cordillera Ecozone+, (2) extend the area along its boundary with the Arctic Ecozone+ and, (3) move the southeastern boundary to include lands formerly considered part of the Taiga Shield.

Ecological classification system – ecozones+
Long description for Ecological classification system – ecozones+

This map of Canada shows the ecological classification framework for the Ecosystem Status and Trends Report, named “ecozones+”. This map shows the distribution of 15 terrestrial ecozones+ (Atlantic Maritime; Newfoundland Boreal; Taiga Shield; Mixedwood Plains; Boreal Shield; Hudson Plains; Prairies; Boreal Plains; Montane Cordillera; Western Interior Basin; Pacific Maritime; Boreal Cordillera; Taiga Cordillera; Taiga Plains; Arctic), two large lake ecozones+ (Great Lakes; Lake Winnipeg), and nine marine ecozones+ (North Coast and Hecate Strait; West Coast Vancouver Island; Strait of Georgia; Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf; Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence; Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves; Hudson Bay, James Bay and Fox Basin; Canadian Arctic Archipelago; Beaufort Sea).

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This report has been written by the ESTR Secretariat with significant assistance from Anne Gunn and Joan Eamer. It is based on the report, Taiga Plains Ecozone+ Status and Trends Assessment.

Additional reviews of this summary report were provided by scientists and resource managers from relevant provincial and federal government agencies, as well as one external expert review. Further information about this Ecozone+ can be found in the associated supplementary material, taken from the draft Technical Ecozone+ Report. Contributions to the Taiga Plains Ecozone+ Status and Trends Assessment are listed below.

Taiga Plains Ecozone+ Status and Trends AssessmentReference 7 (Technical Ecozone+ Report) acknowledgments

Lead authors
Anne Gunn, Joan Eamer, and Suzanne Carrière
Contributing authors, specific sections or topics
Northwest Territories ecozone classification: B. Oosenbrug
Protected areas: Jean-Francois Gobeil, Robert Helie and Robert Vanderkam
Authors of ESTR Thematic Technical Reports from which material is drawn
Large-scale climate oscillations influencing Canada, 1900-2008: B. Bonsal and A. ShabbarReference 8
Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007: X. Zhang, R. Brown, L. Vincent, W. Skinner, Y. Feng and E. MekisReference 9
Trends in large fires in Canada, 1959-2007: C.C. Krezek-Hanes, F. Ahern, A. Cantin and M.D. FlanniganReference 10
Wildlife pathogens and diseases in Canada: F.A. LeightonReference 11
Trends in permafrost conditions and ecology in northern Canada: S. SmithReference 12
Monitoring ecosystems remotely: a selection of trends measured from satellite observations of Canada: F. Ahern, J. Frisk, R. Latifovic and D. PouliotReference 13
Climate-driven trends in Canadian streamflow, 1961-2003: A. Cannon, T. Lai and P. WhitfieldReference 14
Biodiversity in Canadian lakes and rivers: W.A. Monk and D.J. BairdReference 15

Review conducted by scientists, traditional knowledge specialists, and renewable resource and wildlife managers from provincial (BC only), territorial, and federal government agencies, and from wildlife co-management boards through a review process recommended by the ESTR Steering Committee. Substantial changes to the report were made as a result of this process.

Direction provided by the ESTR Steering Committee composed of representatives of federal, provincial and territorial agencies.

Editing, synthesis, technical contributions, maps and graphics, and report production by the ESTR Secretariat.

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge compiled from publicly available sources by Donna D. Hurlburt.

Figure 1. Overview map of the Taiga Plains Ecozone+
Long description for Figure 1.

This overview map of the Taiga Plains Ecozone+ shows the locations of cities/towns and bodies of water referred to in the report.  The ecozone+ extends from the Mackenzie River Delta at the Yukon border along the western side of the Northwest Territories and down into the northeast corner of BC and northwest Alberta.  Villages and towns pictured on the map include Aklavik, Inuvik, Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic near the Mackenzie delta, Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells, Fort Simpson, Fort Providence and Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories, Fort Nelson in BC and Hay Lake in Alberta. Yellowknife and Wrigley, NWT are pictured, but fall just outside the boundaries of the ecozone+.  Half of Great Slave Lake and all of Great Bear Lake fall within the boundaries of the Taiga Plains Ecozone+.  From northwest to southeast, the major rivers depicted on the map are the Arctic Red River, the Mackenzie River, the Liard River, the Hay River and the Slave River.  All-weather roads on the map are typically restricted to the southern half of the ecozone+, with access to northern areas by winter road, except the Dempster Highway that runs to Inuvik and Fort McPherson from the Yukon.

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