Taiga Shield Ecozone
The Taiga Shield Ecozone is located on both sides of Hudson Bay, with the eastern portion running into Labrador. It consists of the taiga forest and the Canadian shield. These are some of the major characteristics of the ecozone:
The climate is subarctic, with relatively short summers that have long daylight hours and cool temperatures, and winters that are lengthy and extremely cold. In Labrador, mean annual temperatures range between approximately -1°C to -5°C, but is 0°C in some areas. The Labrador current brings cold water southwards, and diminishes the moderating effect of the Atlantic Ocean. Mean summer temperatures range between 6oC and 11oC, and mean winter temperatures range between -11°C and -24.5°C. Precipitation ranges from 500 to 800 mm, and may exceed 1000 mm a year in areas along the coast.
The vegetation is characterized by wetlands, shrublands, meadows, and open forests. The forest stands have associated lichens, and grades into areas of open arctic tundra. The limits of tree growth are reached along the northern edge of this ecozone. In the central portion of the zone, there are stunted black spruce and jack pine, along with tamarack, alder, and willow, which are found in fens and bogs. Tree species which include white spruce, balsam fir, trembling aspen, balsam poplar, and white birch are found along rivers and streams and on upland sites.
The landforms have been largely shaped by glaciation during the last ice age. The terrain is broadly rolling, consisting of many uplands areas and long, sinuous eskers. There are numerous bedrock outcrops, along with discontinuous hummocky and ridged morainal deposits. Some lacustrine and marine deposits are also present. The landscape is composed of thousands of lakes and wetlands that exist in depressions formed by glaciers. The lower areas consist mainly of peatlands, and are frequently waterlogged or wet for extended periods. Permafrost is discontinuous but exists over a large area.
The wildlife in this ecozone includes lynx, beaver, black and grizzly bear, arctic fox, moose, wolf, snowshoe hare, woodland caribou, and barren-ground caribou. The barren-ground caribou migrate south in winter to the taiga forest. Thousands of migrating birds such as ducks, geese, loons and swans come to nest or rest and feed on their way to breeding grounds in the Arctic. Seals are found along the coast.
The major centres in Labrador are Labrador City and Churchill Falls, which are founded on the region's rich mining and hydroelectric resources. Forestry, tourism, and recreation are also important activities. Many residents still rely on subsistence hunting, fishing, and trapping as a means of living. Within Labrador, this ecozone can be further divided into ten ecoregions.