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Lecture 5

BIOL 2903 Lecture 5: Hudson Bay Lowland lecture 5

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BIOL 2903
Michael Runtz

Hudson Bay Lowlands – Natural History (Lecture 5) -- Boundaries that are encountered include; the Canadian shield (hilly area). At the west is the boreal forest, the south is Canadian shield (boreal forest), going east is James Bay, while the Tundra is in the North. The Hudson Bay Lowlands is one of the wildest untouched parts of the world. There are no roads there, only planes can access the area. The Hudson Bay Lowland is sometimes called the “Northern Boreal”. The Hudson Bay lowland is underlain by sedimentary limestone. This makes the land very flat (low elevation – 60 to 150m). Thus the winds off the Hudson Bay still have an effect. The average temperature there is -3 to -6 thus a short growing season. It has discontinuous permafrost. It is also still feeling the effects of the glaciers (rebound) so land depression. Clay and silt deposits from the Tyrell Sea. Lots of water!  Cold and wet conditions are ideal for sphagnum moss. Sphagnum moss creates a habitat called a peat land. Peatlands are the dominant habitats in the Hudson Bay lowlands. When peat >45cm thick and wet it is called Muskeg. In Ontario we have one of the largest continuous muskeg habitat. How do we tell this from the Tundra zone? – Trees in the tundra are dwarf, the trees in the Hudson Bay Lowland are Stunted (black spruce and Tamarack). But the trees grow taller and form continuous forests in some sites.  Bogs and Fens are two major types of peatland. Bogs receive water and nutrients only by rainfall and are dominated by sphagnum moss. Fens receive nutrients from flowing groundwater such as streams and are often sedge dominated. How do Peatlands form? – they begin by lake fill (moss grows on the edge of the water). It has helpers (giving it a place to anchor). Sedges colonize and grow out into the water. The moss mat will grow thicker (forming the soil like habitat). Sphagnum modifies the environment making it acidic, nutrient poor, and blocks off oxygen (oxygen deprived – making it hard for other plants to live in). Sphagnum has dead cells that are hallowed that absorb the water, they are intertwined with living cells with chloroplasts. They form the soil. Slowly the mat grows thicker ands spreads chocking the water. The lower portion of the moss dies and more moss grows on top of it. What type of plants will colonize afterwards? – Lichens, especially Reindeer lichens. Heath plants are a dominant group (they have mycorrhizal associations – to obtain nutrients on the roots (fungi). Plants included are the Cranberries and Bog Rosemary. Leather leaf also has leathery leaves with hairs underneath (to prevent desiccation and conserve nutrients). Carnivorous plants (sundews (adhesive traps), pitfall (pitcher plants), and bladderworts).  As t
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