Jasper Alberta Life Zones

Jasper Alberta's National Park is divided into three life zones; montane, subalpine, alpine, which are broad landscapes with characteristic species, communities and physical environments. Climatic differences associated with changes in altitudes determine these differences in Jasper's biodiversity. Higher elevations in Jasper Alberta are generally colder and wetter, while lower elevations are warmer and drier. Local differences in slopes angles create local microclimates. Jasper's steeper mountain slopes are generally better drained and drier than moderately sloping or flat areas. South-facing mountain slopes are drier and warmer than north-facing ones at the same altitude.

Jasper's ranges of plants and animals are related largely to their tolerances to Alberta's alpine and subalpine cold, heat and drought. Other factors that influence distributions in Jasper include food species, competition with other animals or vegetation species, and soil conditions. The wettest areas in Jasper Alberta are occupied by lakes, ponds, marshes and fens. Grasslands occur in the warmest, driest portions of Jasper National Park and forests in moderate environments. Trees can not grow in cold conditions of high altitudes above about 2200 metres and so forests are absent, replaced by low shrub and wildflower communities.

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