Eastern Hudson Bay - Ungava




Text modified from Abell et al. 2000. Freshwater Ecoregions of North America: A Conservation Assessment. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA. Additional text provided by Jennifer Hales.



Major Habitat Type

Temperate coastal rivers

Drainages flowing into

All drainages flow directly into the Arctic Ocean or via Hudson Bay, or into the Atlantic Ocean.

Main rivers to other water bodies

Among the major rivers draining Hudson Bay are the Chukotat and Rivière de Povungnituk in the north, the Grande Rivière de la Baleine in the central portion, and the Rivière de Rupert in the south. Those rivers flowing into Ungava Bay include Rivière aux Feuilles, Rivière aux Mélèzes, Rivière Caniapiscau, Rivière a la Baleine, and Rivière George. The Kanairiktok River and Churchill River empty into the Labrador Sea.



This ecoregion occupies most of northern Quebec and mainland Newfoundland (Labrador). It is defined predominantly by the rivers from Quebec that drain into the Hudson Bay and Ungava Bay, as well as several coastal rivers that empty into the Labrador Sea.


This ecoregion lies on the eastern Canadian Shield and is primarily rough and undulating. Its physiography is composed mainly of massive Archean granites, granitic gneiss, and acidic intrusives with some sedimentary rock along the coast (Ricketts et al. 1999). Elevations range from sea level to summit elevations near 1500 m asl in the Torngat Mountains along the Labrador Sea coast. Here, steep-sided mountains are separated by deeply incised fjords and finger lakes.

Freshwater habitats

Glaciation has created morainal plains dissected by numerous rivers and small, shallow lakes. Permafrost is extensive throughout the Ungava Peninsula and in isolated patches in the south, especially in wetlands (ESWG 1995). Wetlands are very common in lowlands throughout the ecoregion.

Terrestrial habitats

Much of the ecoregion represents an area of vegetative transition between the taiga or boreal forest to the south and the treeless arctic tundra to the north (ESWG 1995). Vegetation is dominated by black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina), with secondary quantities of white spruce (P. glauca) and dwarf birch (Betula spp.), willow (Salix spp.), ericaceous shrubs (Ericaceae), cottongrass (Eriophorum spp.), and heath species. Lichens and moss are also common (Ricketts et al. 1999).

Description of endemic fishes

There are no known endemic species.

Other noteworthy fishes


Ecological phenomena

The Eastern Hudson – Ungava ecoregion supports runs of anadromous Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus), Atlantic salmon, and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis).

Justification for delineation

The ecoregions of Canada were identified based on the faunal similarity of 166 major watersheds based on a cluster analysis of freshwater fish occurrences in these watersheds. The Eastern Hudson – Ungava ecoregion contains watersheds that drain into eastern Hudson Bay, eastern Arctic Ocean and northern Atlantic Ocean. Given its isolation, harsh climate and large distances from glacial refugia, the fish fauna of this ecoregion is quite depauparate, but most characteristic of the fauna derived from the closest refugium – the Atlantic refugium.

Level of taxonomic exploration



  • Abell, R.,Olson, D.,Dinerstein, E.,Hurley, P. T.,Diggs, J. T.,Eichbaum, W.,Walters, S.,Wettengel, W.,Allnutt, T.,Loucks, C. J.;Hedao, P. (2000). "Freshwater ecoregions of North America" Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
  • Eswg (1995) \A national ecological framework for Canada\ Ottawa/Hull, Ontario, Canada. Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Research Branch, Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research; and Environment Canada, State of the Environment Directorate, Ecozone Analysis Branch..
  • Ricketts, T. H.,E. Dinerstein,D.M Olson;C.J. Loucks (1999). "Terrestrial ecoregions of North America: A conservation assessment" Washington, D.C.: World Wildlife Fund.