The Scotty Creek Forest Dynamics Plot is located in the Hay River Lowlands, approximately 630 km west of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. This plot is the first boreal forest plot to be included in the ForestGEO network. Another unique feature of this site is that the site is characterized by discontinuous permafrost (perenially cryotic ground) with upraised permafrost plateaus surrounded by permafrost-free wetlands. Permafrost thaw at this site is accelerating due to amplified high latitude warming and will lead to dramatic changes in the forest composition and structure. The plot has deep (~3m), nutrient-poor, organic soils, however, in areas with permafrost, the seasonally thawed (active) layer is typically limited to the upper 40-50cm of peat. Topographic variability, while very important to tree species distributions, is largely restricted to the ground surface elevation attributable to permafrost.
The most abundant species is black spruce (Picea mariana), which dominates the permafrost plateaus, while larch (Larix laricina) dominates the permafrost-free wetlands. High-density patches of Betula glandulosa (American dwarf birch) reaching measurable size are also frequent in the site. Other species include Alaskan paper birch, trembling aspen, white spruce, and alder and willow species. The most common large mammals include moose, black bears, and woodland caribou. The forests at this site have not burned for at least 170 years and human disturbance in the basin is limited to low density seismic exploration.