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.
Deep, 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.
Information provided by and printed with the permission
of Alberta Community Development, Parks
and Protected Areas.