Energy, Mines and Resources

Oil and Gas Resources

Biophysical Descriptions – North Yukon

North Yukon Ecozones and Ecoregions
The North Yukon Oil and Gas Region is extraordinarily complex, encompassing three ecoregions and nine ecozones.

  • Southern Arctic Ecozone  706 KB
    The Southern Arctic Ecozone is located in the far north. It is the only Yukon ecoregion that has both a southern arctic ecosystem and a marine coastline.
    • Yukon Coastal Plain Ecoregion  574 KB
      This area is home to populations of muskoxen, polar bear and Arctic fox and is the summer range of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. During the last Ice Age, much of the land was glaciated by the Laurentide ice sheet.
  • Taiga Cordillera Ecozone  2.7 MB
    This ecozone includes the British-Richardson Mountains, Old Crow Basin, Old Crow Flats, North Ogilvie Mountains, Eagle Plains and Mackenzie Mountains.
    • British-Richardson Mountains Ecoregion  487 KB
      This ecoregion contains the largest extent of unglaciated mountain ranges in Canada. Examples of periglacial landforms are found within the area. The northernmost section consists of phosphate minerals and the vegetation cover is made up of diverse ecosystems and habitats. The Yukon portion of the Porcupine Caribou Herd calving grounds and other migration routes are found in this ecoregion.
    • Old Crow Basin Ecoregion  367 KB
      This large physiographic basin was unglaciated during the Pleistocene and many of the lower elevations were submerged under glacial Lake Old Crow. This lake formed because the Laurentide ice sheet blocked the previous drainage system and changed the direction of the Porcupine River. The spring and fall migration routes of the Porcupine Caribou Herd fall in this region.
    • Old Crow Flats Ecoregion  429 KB
      The extent of this ecoregion is defined by analysing lake bottom sediments deposited by a glacial lake that formed at the end of the last Ice Age. The climate is strongly continental with warm summers and long, cold winters and the most abundant waterfowl population within the Taiga Cordillera Ecozone in Canada reside here.
    • North Ogilvie Mountains Ecoregion  385 KB
      In this region, the mountains are made of sedimentary rock with unvegetated summits and rubble covered slopes. These mountains are separated by broad valleys. This ecoregion was largely ice-free during the most recent glacial event, but there is evidence of older glaciations. Periglacial landforms are common. The area provides wintering grounds for the Porcupine Caribou Herd and is home to the Ogilvie Mountain lemming.
    • Eagle Plains Ecoregion  475 KB
      This is an intermontane basin of modest relief underlain by Devonian through Cretaceous sedimentary rocks. The ecoregion drains into both the Yukon and Mackenzie River systems. Much of the area escaped glaciation, but is now underlain by continuous permafrost and periglacial features are common. This area has one of the lowest levels of mammalian diversity in the Taiga Cordillera Ecozone because habitat diversity for many species is limited.
    • Mackenzie Mountains Ecoregion  524 KB
      Sedimentary rock underlies much of this ecoregion. These rocks range in age from the Early Proterozoic to Middle Jurassic. In Canada, exposed sedimentary records of this duration (1.6 billion years) are rare. The landscape also consists of landforms associated with multiple glaciations and periglacial weathering. This transition from the boreal in the south to the taiga in the north takes place in this area. The Yukon portion of the ecoregion is home to some of the largest woodland caribou herds in the territory.
  • Taiga Plain Ecozone  1 MB
    The Taiga Plain Ecozone includes the Peel River Plateau and the Fort McPherson Plain.
    • Peel River Plateau Ecoregion  407 KB
      This is the only ecoregion in the Yukon with landscapes shaped almost entirely as a result of the movement of the Laurentide ice sheet. The rapid northward draining of pro-glacial lakes about 10,500 years ago created several canyons where Peel River tributaries, such as the Snake, Caribou, Trail and Road rivers downcut into the plateau. Most species of large Yukon mammals occur, but only the polar representatives of most small mammals inhabit the ecoregion. The extensive wetlands and the broad Peel River valley support considerable bird life.
    • Fort McPherson Plain Ecoregion  345 KB
      Only a small portion of low relief, low elevation occurs within the Yukon. This ecoregion includes the only part of the territory that lies on the floor of the Mackenzie Valley. Perennially frozen peatlands are extensive, covering over 25 per cent of the area. The mean annual runoff is extremely low because of the very low relief. The mean seasonal and summer stream flows of rivers are the lowest per unit area among all the Yukon ecoregions.

Source: Smith, C.A.S., Meikle, J.C. and Roots,C.F. (editors), 2004. Ecoregions of the Yukon Territory - Biophysical Properties of Yukon Landscapes. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, PARC Technical Bulletin 04-01, Summerland, British Columbia, pages 61 to 148.