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Map of the Hudson Plains ecozone  

Location | Climate | Geology and geography | Flora and fauna | Humans

The Hudson Plains stretch from Manitoba to Quebec along the southern edge of Hudson Bay.

Canada contains a quarter of the world's wetlands, and the Hudson Plains ecozone's poor drainage has resulted in the largest continuous wetlands in the world. Hudson's Bay moderates the temperature in summer, but the ice that covers it in winter prevents most of this; average summer temperatures are 11ºC, but in winter the average temperature is -18ºC. Precipitation ranges from 400mm in the northwest to 800mm in the southeast.

Geology and Geography
The terrain here is flat, and the poor drainage encourages the creation of wetlands and bogs. Palaeozoic and Proterozoic sedimentary bedrock slopes gradually towards Hudson Bay.

Flora and Fauna
Vegetation here follows two basic patterns. The first ranges from north to south; in the north, the terrain is treeless tundra, but in the more southern taiga trees appear, getting thicker as one keeps moving south. The second pattern follows altitude. Because the drainage here is poor, trees are only found at the drier higher altitudes, while the lower altitudes lack trees. This results in belts of trees following the ridges in striking patterns. Some characteristic tree species are black spruce, white spruce, tamarack, balsam poplar, dwarf birch, paper birch, shining willow, Bebb willow, and trembling aspen. Other plants include eriacaceous shrubs, cottongrass, sphagnum moss, northern Labrador tea, lapland rosebay, black crowberry, blueberry, cloudberry, arctic aven, purple saxifrage, prickly saxifrage, lousewort, reindeer moss, and caribou lichen.

Diversity is highest in summer, when migrating birds appear in huge numbers to breed. The region is more famous for its biting insect population, which takes advantage of the poor drainage to breed in huge numbers. A single hectare is estimated to be able to produce ten million black flies, no-see-ums and other biting insects!

Characteristic large herbivores include caribou, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, mountain goat, and California bighorn sheep. Large carnivores that are found here include black bear, grizzly bear, polar bear,
wolf, and lynx. The small herbivores include hoary marmot, Columbian ground squirrel, brown lemming, snowshoe hare, beaver. The small carnivores of the Hudson Plains include coyote, red fox, arctic fox, fisher, marten, mink, wolverine, hoary bat, red bat, and river otter. Some aquatic mammals that can be found are bearded seals, harbour seals, ringed seals, beluga, and bowhead whales.

Some of the characteristic birds of prey are northern goshawk, boreal owl, short-eared owl, red-tailed hawk, common nighthawk, and merlin. Shorebirds and seabirds that are found here include semipalmated sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper, american bittern, common snipe, killdeer, and yellow rail. The songbirds of the region include Stellar’s jay, black-billed magpie, Smith's longspur, common redpoll, common crow, rusty blackbird, and tree swallow. Waterfowl such as Canada goose, snow goose, American black duck, northern pintail, tundra swan, green-winged teal, mallard, American black duck, and ring-necked duck are found here. Birds of the forest include
blue grouse, ruffed grouse, willow ptarmigan, northern flicker, and downy woodpecker.

Amphibians and Reptiles
Three frog species that live in the Hudson Plains are the striped chorus frog, northern leopard frog, and wood frog.

Predators such as lake sturgeon, brook trout, northern pike, and walleye prey on such species as lake herring, lake whitefish, lake chub, pearl dace, and ninespine stickleback.

Both the muskeg stagnicola and arctic-alpine fingernail clam can be found here.

The Hudson Plains are notorious for their populations of biting insects.

A lack of timber and minerals means that tourism and subsistence activities are the means by which the 10 000 people who live here make their living.


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