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The ecology of the montane spruce zone

Author(s) or contact(s): BC Ministry of Forests - Research Branch
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Ecology
Series: Brochure
Other details:  Published 1999. Hardcopy is available.


The Montane Spruce Zone occupies a narrow, mid-elevation band in the mountains and plateaus of the dry southern interior of British Columbia. Although the zone is mostly forested, in some areas it contains numerous lakes, wetlands, and meadows. The zone's extensive lodgepole pine forests are an important economic resource, and its climate of cool, dry summers and cold winters makes it a popular area for recreational activities such as hunting, camping, fishing, skiing, and hiking.

The Montane Spruce Zone lies nestled between the high-elevation subalpine forests of spruce and subalpine fir and the lower-elevation forests of Douglas-fir or lodge-pole pine in the province's dry southern interior. The zone normally occupies a relatively narrow elevational band of about 300-400 m. In some areas, though, the zone is rather widespread because the prevailing elevation of the plateaus is in this elevational band. In wetter climatic areas, it occurs at elevations of about 1100-1500 m, and in drier areas at about 1250-1650 m. The Montane Spruce Zone extends from the Fraser Plateau south to northern Washington, Idaho, and Montana, and east to Alberta. It occurs on the broad, rising plateau that surrounds the Itcha and Ilgachuz mountains, the Southern Interior Plateau in the Fraser, Thompson, and Okanagan areas, on the lee side of the Coast and Cascade mountains, and in the southern Rocky Mountains and the Rocky Mountain Trench.

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Updated October 17, 2008