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The Alpine Vegetation

Alpine vegetation typically forms a complex, fine-scale mosaic in which microclimatic variations are reflected by marked changes in dominant species. Significant environmental factors include aspect, wind exposure, time of snow melt, soil moisture and snow depth.

Alpine HerbsDeep, late-melting snowbeds are occupied by Black Alpine Sedge communities. Moderate snowbed communities typically contain dwarf shrub heath tundra that is dominated by Heathers, Mountain Heathers, and Grouseberry. Shallow snow areas on ridgetops and other exposed sites typically contain communities dominated by White Mountain Avens, Snow Willow and Moss Campion, or Kobresia. Diverse, colourful herb meadows occur in moist sites below melting snow banks or along streams. Highest elevation communities are composed mainly of lichens on rocks and shallow soil.

Some floristic differences are apparent south of Crowsnest Pass. Mountain Heathers are absent and Heathers are more restricted than further north. Bear Grass meadows occur in some low elevation Alpine areas and other vegetation communities are apparently confined to this part of the province.

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