Jasper Alberta Mountain Ecosystems
Jasper Alberta's Historical Timeline
Jasper National Park
Canada's Largest National Park
Climate, geology, soil, plants, animals and humans all interact in one large complex web of life in Jasper, Alberta. Jasper is especially fragile, where existence depends on the intricate relationships between flora and fauna, weather and landscape. Jasper's conceptual relationships, called ecosystems, can become chaos by the slightest changes, affecting even the largest of animals, including Jasper's famous grizzly bear.
Jasper Alberta's National Park is located on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains of west-central Alberta, east of the continental divide. Jasper's location strongly influences climate, geology, plants and animals, with a great affect on human history. The Albertan Mountain landscape was formed by geological events over millions of years, resulting in rugged topography with a large range in altitude (from 985 metres in Jasper's Athabasca Valley to nearly 3800 metres at Mt. Columbia).
These mountainous altitude differences influence the climate, with higher altitudes being colder and generally wetter, while lower Jasper altitudes are warmer and drier. Jasper Alberta's National Park location also affects the climate. The eastern slopes of the Alberta Rocky Mountains are drier than the western slopes in adjacent British Columbia due to a rain shadow effect. This occurs when storms moving eastward from the Pacific Ocean drop much of their moisture on the western slopes as the clouds are forced higher by the mountains. Jasper's eastern slopes are also more frequently subjected to Arctic air plunging southward, especially in the winter. As a result of these two weather influences, Jasper is generally colder and drier than areas to the west.
Climatic differences at different altitudes in Jasper produce different environments which are inhabited by various combinations of plants, animals, and other forms of life. These are recognized as three different life zones - montane, subalpine, alpine.
Ecologically, Jasper's plants and animals are not independent of their environment or of each other. Climate, geology, soil, plants, animals, and so on are all influenced by one another in a complex web of interactions called an ecosystem. Reading further will describe each of these ecosystems in greater detail, building up to Jasper's Human history.