Return to the Wild - Evolving perspectives on Canadian wildlife


About Canada’s ecozones

Canada, the United States and Mexico make up a majority of the North American continent. While the borders of these three countries are clearly delineated, the continent’s habitats often cross borders, as do the organisms that inhabit them. One way to define and organize these habitats is to divide the continent into ecological zones, or ecozones. While this term may have several definitions, the one chosen for this virtual exhibit categorizes an ecozone as a large area with relatively similar land features, climate and species and, at the same time, acknowledges the many differences that may be found within this area.

How we classify the ecozones

Six ecozones will be explored here: Arctic; prairie; northwestern forest; boreal forest; eastern forest; and desert. In Canada, the Arctic makes up the largest area and the desert the smallest. No specific marine or freshwater ecozones are included in this virtual exhibit, so a body of water that falls within or alongside an ecozone is classified as part of that ecozone.

North American ecozones not found in Canada

Within Canada’s borders, there are no habitats containing tropical forests, semi-arid highlands, temperate sierras or Mediterranean-like regions. Such ecozones are found in California, Arizona, southern Florida and throughout Mexico. Although these ecozones are absent in Canada, some Canadian organisms migrate to these southern habitats for part of the year.

Arctic Northwestern Forest Desert Desert Desert Northwestern Forest Boreal Forest Prairie Eastern Forest
Ecozones Map

Additional ecozones not present in Canada:

Mediterranean California

Southern Semi-arid Highlands

Tropical Dry Forests

Temperate Sierras

Tropical Wet Forests