During the mid-Pliocene (Zanclean, ca. ∼ 3.9 Ma), parts of the Canadian High Arctic experienced mean annual temperatures that were 14–22°C warmer than today and supported diverse boreal-type forests. The landscapes of this vegetated polar region left behind a fragmented sedimentary record that crops out across several islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago as the Beaufort Formation and correlative strata. Paleoecological information from these strata provides a high-fidelity window onto Pliocene environments, and prominent fossil sites yield unparalleled insights into Cenozoic mammal evolution. Significantly, many of the strata reveal evidence for life-sediment interactions in a warm-climate Arctic, most notably in the form of extensive woody debris and phytoclast deposits. This paper presents original field data that refines the sedimentological context of plant debris accumulations from the anactualistic High Arctic forests, most notably at the ‘Fyles Leaf Beds' and ‘Beaver Pond' fossil-bearing sites in the ‘high terrace deposits' of central Ellesmere Island. The former is a remarkably well-preserved, leaf-rich deposit that is part of a complex of facies associations representing lacustrine, fluvio-deltaic and mire deposition above a paleotopographic unconformity. The latter yields tooth-marked woody debris within a peat layer that also contains a rich assemblage of vertebrate and plant fossils including abundant remains from the extinct beaver-group Dipoides. Here we present sedimentological data that provide circumstantial evidence that the woody debris deposit at Beaver Pond could record dam-building in the genus, by comparing the facies motif with new data from known Holocene beaver dam facies in England. Across the Pliocene of the High Arctic region, woody debris accumulations are shown to represent an array of biosedimentary deposits and landforms including mires, driftcretions, woody bedforms, and possible beaver dams, which help to contextualize mammal fossil sites, provide facies models for high-latitude forests, and reveal interactions between life and sedimentation in a vanished world that may be an analogue to that of the near-future.

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