Enduring Features

Three characteristics of the non-living world —elevation, geology and landform — are referred to here as "enduring features". In combination with climate, they are important determinants of Labrador’s biological diversity. In many ways they describe the ecological potential of the landscape. Combined into "ecological land units" (ELUs), they uniquely characterize landscape variability. Read more.


The patterns of environmental variation across the landscape are fundamental to land and resource planning at local, regional and landscape scales. Information about the distribution of living (biotic) organisms and communities is not yet available for all of Labrador. In the absence of this information, the physical (abiotic) features of a landscape may be used as a representation (or surrogate) for biological diversity. Many factors shape the structure and composition of ecological communities.  Research shows strong linkages between ecosystem patterns and, for example, climate, geology, soils and topography.

This dataset combines information on elevation, geology, and topography into one comprehensive layer referred to as "Ecological Land Units" (ELUs). Attribute values are summed values for elevation zone, geology, and landform codes for each 30 m cell. For example, a cell at 350 metres a.s.l (elevation class 3000) on acidic granitic bedrock (geology class 500) in a wet flat (landform class 21) is coded 3521.

Note that the Enduring Features dataset itself carries no information about actual land use or land cover.


Elevation strongly influences microclimate. Where elevations are extreme, it confers topographic complexity that results in microclimates further complicated by exposure, aspect, and steepness of slopes.


Bedrock geology is a contributing determinant of soil chemistry, texture, and nutrient availability. Many plant communities are associated with the chemistry and drainage of soils associated with particular bedrocks.


The form, or topography, of the land provides “the anchor and control of terrestrial ecosystems” (Rowe 1977). Landforms vary in their in-coming solar radiation, soil development, wind exposure, water retention, and natural disturbance. They are a measure of elevation, slope, aspect, surface curvature, and upslope water catchment, and segment broad landscapes into local topographic units, many with distinct microclimates. Landform influences species distributions and habitat productivity.


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