Laurentian and Acadian

Autumns in this region are gorgeous and winters harsh. Some 12,000 years ago, the retreat of the glaciers left behind the countless thousands of small lakes that define the landscape. These cooler northern forests, often dominated by northern hardwoods and conifers, are dotted with marshes, swamps, and peat bogs. 

Extending in broad arc from northern Minnesota southeast across northern Wisconsin, Michigan, southern Ontario, the Allegheny Highlands of Pennsylvania, upstate New York across adjacent northern New England and adjacent Canada.

Climate is cool temperate. Average annual temperatures of 3.4ºC (38ºF) and annual precipitation of  755mm (30 inches). Dampened temperature extremes – as well as heavy snowfall – result from proximity to the Great Lakes in this Division.

This Division defines the transition from eastern temperate deciduous forests to eastern Boreal forest. Forests of northern hardwoods, mixed with pines, aspens, spruces, balsam fir, and eastern hemlock predominate.  Fire-dominated woodlands of pines and oaks occur on dry glacial sands.  Wetlands include peat bogs, northern white-cedar swamps, ixed hardwood-conifer swamps, alder thickets, and open marshes. These are predominantly glaciated landscapes, with flat to gently-rolling plains among the Great Lakes, with thousands of smaller lakes scattered throughout.  Extensive wetlands remain in poorly-drained landscape settings. Mountain ranges in the east include the Northern Appalachians, Adirondacks, and Catskills. 

History and Trends
Native American populations varied in density and location, focusing on subsistence hunting and fishing.  Early Euro-American activity centered on the fur trade, then logging, first in the pineries, and later for hardwoods to support steamship traffic on the Great Lakes.  Mining for iron ore, copper, and coal have all seen booms and busts.  Forestry and outdoor recreation remain dominant forces in the economies of the Laurentian and Acadian Ecological Division.

Laurentian and Acadian Ecoregions

  • High Allegheny Plateau Ecoregion

    The High Allegheny Plateau extends over 16.9 million acres, north from the Great Lakes Plains of Lake Ontario to the Ridge and Valley region of the Central Appalachians to the south, and from the Lake Erie Plain in the west to the Hudson River Valley in the east.

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  • Northern Appalachian-Acadian Ecoregion

    The Northern Appalachian-Acadian Ecoregion extends from the Tug Hill and Adirondack ranges of New York, across the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, into Maine and Maritime Canada.

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