A National Ecological Framework for Canada

156. ASPEN PARKLAND

This ecoregion extends in a broad arc from southwestern Manitoba, northwestward through Saskatchewan to its northern apex in central Alberta. The parkland is considered transitional between the boreal forest to the north and the grasslands to the south.

The climate is marked by short, warm summers and long, cold winters with continuous snow cover. The mean annual temperature is approximately 1.5 ºC. The mean summer temperature is 15ºC and the mean winter temperature is -12.5ºC. The mean annual precipitation ranges 400500 mm.

The ecoregion is classified as having a transitional grassland ecoclimate. Most of the ecoregion is now farmland but in its native state, the landscape was characterized by trembling aspen, oak groves, mixed tall shrubs, and intermittent fescue grasslands. Open stands of trembling aspen and shrubs occur on most sites, and bur oak and grassland communities occupy increasingly drier sites on loamy Black Chernozemic soils. Poorly drained, Gleysolic soils support willow and sedge species.

This broad plains region, underlain by Cretaceous shale, is covered by undulating to kettled, calcareous, glacial till with significant areas of level lacustrine and hummocky to ridged fluvioglacial deposits. Associated with the rougher hummocky glacial till, landscapes are numerous tree-ringed, small lakes, ponds, and sloughs that provide a major habitat for waterfowl.

The ecoregion also provides a major breeding habitat for waterfowl and includes habitat for white-tailed deer, coyote, snowshoe hare, cottontail, red fox, northern pocket gopher, Franklin's ground squirrel, and bird species like sharp-tailed grouse and black-billed magpie.

Owing to its favourable climate and fertile, warm black soils, this ecoregion represents some of the most productive agricultural land in the Prairies. It produces a wide diversity of crops, including spring wheat and other cereals, oilseeds, as well as forages and several specialty crops. Dryland continuous cropping methods for spring wheat and other cereal grains are prevalent.

Major communities include Red Deer, Edmonton, Lloydminster, North Battleford, Humboldt, Yorkton, and Brandon. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 1 689 000.

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Last updated: 17 April 1997
Copyright © 1997, Environment Canada. All rights reserved.