The Biogeoclimatic Zones of British Columbia

Ecology – The Economy of Nature – Canadian 6th Edition

Getting to know where you live, what plants grow there, and what animals live there, can be fun. Understanding some of the terms used is helpful. An ecosystem is a biological community – all populations of species living together in a particular area – interacting with each other and their physical environment – the biotic (living) and the abiotic (non-living) of a given area. A biome is a geographic region that contains plants (flora) and animals (fauna) that are adapted to live within it. On Earth there are nine major categories of terrestrial (land based) biomes and aquatic biomes that include fresh water and salt water. The aquatic biomes are categorized by their depth, flow, and salinity. The nine terrestrial biomes include: tundras, boreal forests, temperate rainforests, temperate seasonal forests, woodlands/shrublands, temperate grasslands/cold deserts, tropical rainforests, tropical seasonal forests/savannahs, and subtropical deserts. Climate plays an important part in determining the different biomes. Climate is different from weather. Weather is what is happening at a certain time, and climate is what the weather is like over a long period of time for a certain area. Climate change therefore, can put both plant and animal species at risk, if the climate changes beyond what they can survive in. Geology also plays an important part in determining the different biomes and or ecosystems. The makeup of the rock – igneous rock (formed from magma or lava), metamorphic rock (igneous or sedimentary rock that has change physically and or chemically do to high pressure and or high temperature), sedimentary rock (sediments such as, sand, silt and or clay that have accumulated and been squashed and cemented together to create layers of rock) – and the altitude of the rock – mountainous, sea level shoreline, or open high level or low level plain- plays a part in creating the biome or ecosystem.

Biogeoclimatic Zones of British Columbia

Here in British Columbia (BC), Canada, the province has been broken down into 14 biogeoclimatic zones under the Ministry of Forests and Range. BC has a diverse range of ecosystems that supports a great diversity of plants and animals. Here on the southern tip on the West Coast of BC, where I live, is a very small zone called the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone. This area is densely populated putting this ecosystem at risk. Around this zone and up the coast of BC is the Coastal Western Hemlock Zone. The main difference between the two is that the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone is drier because it lies within the rainshadow of part of the Insular Mountain range on Vancouver Island. It includes the south/east corner of Vancouver Island, the southern Gulf Islands, and part of the south/west tip of the mainland.

Douglas-fir trees

In the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone, the most common tree is, of course, the Coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii). There are also, Western Redcedar which likes more moist sites, Grand fir, and Shore pine for the conifers. The Arbutus is the only evergreen broadleaf tree in British Columbia. The Red Alder and Bigleaf Maple are two very common deciduous trees in this zone. For more information on plants and animals of these zone, check out the blog posts in the categories section on the right.

Trackbacks & Pings

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