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Technical Thematic Report No. 11. - Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ Evidence for key findings summary

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Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ Evidence for key findings summary

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M. Fast, B. Collins and M. GendronFootnote a

Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010
Technical Thematic Report No. 11
Published by the Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Trends in breeding waterfowl in Canada.

Issued also in French under title:
Sommaire des éléments probants relativement aux constatations clés pour l'écozone+ du bassin
intérieur de l'Ouest.
Electronic monograph in PDF format.
ISBN 978-1-100-23417-5
Cat. no.: En14-43/0-11-2014E-PDF

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ESTR Secretariat. 2014. Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ evidence for key findings summary. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Evidence for Key Findings Summary Report No.11. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. viii + 106 p.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2014
Aussi disponible en français

Footnotes - Document Information

Footnote a

All authors are with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada.

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Preface

The Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers developed a Biodiversity Outcomes Framework Footnote 1 in 2006 to focus conservation and restoration actions under the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy. Footnote 2 Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010 Footnote 3 was a first report under this framework. It presents 22 key findings that emerged from synthesis and analysis of background technical reports prepared on the status and trends for many cross-cutting national themes (the Technical Thematic Report Series) and for individual terrestrial and marine ecozones+ of Canada (the Ecozone+ Status and Trends Assessments). More than 500 experts participated in data analysis, writing, and review of these foundation documents. Summary reports were also prepared for each terrestrial ecozone+ to present the ecozone+-specific evidence related to each of the 22 national key findings (the Evidence for Key Findings Summary Report Series).

Together, the full complement of these products constitutes the 2010 Ecosystem Status and Trends Report (ESTR).

Report

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This report, Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ Evidence for Key Findings Summary, presents evidence from the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ related to the 22 national key findings and highlights important trends specific to this ecozone+. It is not a comprehensive assessment of all ecosystem-related information. The level of detail presented on each key finding varies and important issues or datasets may have been missed. Some emphasis has been placed on information from the national Technical Thematic Report Series. As in all ESTR products, the time frames over which trends are assessed vary – both because time frames that are meaningful for these diverse aspects of ecosystems vary and because the assessment is based on the best available information, which is over a range of time periods.

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Ecological Classification System – Ecozones+

A slightly modified version of the Terrestrial Ecozones of Canada, described in the National Ecological Framework for Canada Footnote 4, provided the ecosystem-based units for all reports related to this project. Modifications from the original framework include: adjustments to terrestrial boundaries to reflect improvements from ground-truthing exercises; the combination of three Arctic ecozones into one; the use of two ecoprovinces – Western Interior Basin and Newfoundland Boreal; the addition of nine marine ecosystem-based units; and, the addition of the Great Lakes as a unit. This modified classification system is referred to as "ecozones+" throughout these reports to avoid confusion with the more familiar "ecozones" of the original framework. Footnote 5 The boundary of the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ is the same as the Southern Interior Ecoprovince of BC's Ecoregion Classification System. Footnote 6

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map

Long Description for Ecozones+ map of Canada

This map of Canada shows the ecological classification framework for the Ecosystem Status and Trends Report, named "ecozones+". This map shows the distribution of 15 terrestrial ecozones+ (Atlantic Maritime; Newfoundland Boreal; Taiga Shield; Mixedwood Plains; Boreal Shield; Hudson Plains; Prairies; Boreal Plains; Montane Cordillera; Western Interior Basin; Pacific Maritime; Boreal Cordillera; Taiga Cordillera; Taiga Plains; Arctic), two large lake ecozones+ (Great Lakes; Lake Winnipeg), and nine marine ecozones+ (North Coast and Hecate Strait; West Coast Vancouver Island; Strait of Georgia; Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf; Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence; Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves; Hudson Bay, James Bay and Fox Basin; Canadian Arctic Archipelago; Beaufort Sea).

 

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Acknowledgements

The ESTR Secretariat acknowledges Rowena Rae and Gregg Sheehy for the preparation of various drafts of the report. This report was overseen and edited by Trish Hayes and Emily Gonzales. Kelly Badger was the lead graphics designer. Additional support was provided by Jodi Frisk, Michelle Connolly, and others. It is based on the draft Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ Status and Trends Assessment. Other experts made significant contributions to that draft report and are listed below. Reviews were provided by scientists and resource managers from relevant provincial/territorial and federal government agencies. The Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution also coordinated reviews with external experts.

Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ Draft Status and Trends Assessment Acknowledgements

Lead authors
D. Gayton, L. Harding, T. Hayes, R. Rae
Contributing authors
G. Kuzyk, K. Brock
Contributing authors, specific sections or topics
Wetlands: B. Harrison
Authors of ESTR Thematic Technical Reports from which material is drawn
Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007: X. Zhang, R. Brown, L. Vincent, W. Skinner, Y. Feng and E. Mekis
Trends in large fires in Canada, 1959-2007: C.C. Krezek-Hanes, F. Ahern, A. Cantin and M.D. Flannigan
Wildlife pathogens and diseases in Canada: F.A. Leighton. Contributors: I.K. Barker, D. Campbell, P.-Y. Daoust, Z. Lucus, J. Lumsden, D. Schock, H. Schwantje, K. Taylor, and G. Wobeser.
Landbird trends in Canada, 1968-2006: C. Downes, P. Blancher and B. Collins
Trends in wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in Canada, 1986-2006: S.K. Javorek and M.C. Grant.
Trends in residual soil nitrogen for agricultural land in Canada, 1981-2006: C.F. Drury, J.Y. Yang and R. De Jong.
Soil erosion on cropland: introduction and trends for Canada: B.G. McConkey, D.A. Lobb, S. Li, J.M.W. Black and P.M. Krug.
Monitoring biodiversity remotely: a selection of trends measured from satellite observations of
Canada: F. Ahern, J. Frisk, R. Latifovic and D. Pouliot
Inland colonial waterbird and marsh bird trends for Canada: D.V.C. Weseloh. Contributors: G.
Beyersbergen, S. Boyd, A. Breault, P. Brousseau, S.G. Gilliland, B. Jobin, B. Johns, V. Johnston, S.
Meyer, C. Pekarik, J. Rausch and S.I. Wilhelm.
Climate-driven trends in Canadian streamflow, 1961-2003: A. Cannon, T. Lai and P. Whitfield.
Biodiversity in Canadian lakes and rivers: W.A. Monk and D.J. Baird. Contributors: R.A. Curry, N. Glozier and D.L. Peters.

Review conducted by scientists and renewable resource and wildlife managers from provincial and federal government agencies through a review process administered by the ESTR Steering Committee.

Direction provided by the ESTR Steering Committee composed of representatives of federal, provincial and territorial agencies.

Editing, synthesis, technical contributions, maps and graphics, and report production by the ESTR Secretariat of Environment Canada.

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge compiled from publicly available sources by Donna D. Hurlburt.

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Content Footnote

Footnote 1

Environment Canada. 2006. Biodiversity outcomes framework for Canada. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. 8 p.

Return to Footnote 1 référence

Footnote 2

Federal-Provincial-Territorial Biodiversity Working Group. 1995. Canadian biodiversity strategy: Canada's response to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Environment Canada, Biodiversity Convention Office. Hull, QC. 86 p.

Return to Footnote 2 référence

Footnote 3

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada. 2010. Canadian biodiversity strategy: ecosystem status and trends 2010. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. vi + 142 p.

Return to Footnote 3 référence

Footnote 4

Ecological Stratification Working Group. 1995. A national ecological framework for 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. Ottawa, ON/Hull, QC. vii + 125 p.

Return to Footnote 4 référence

Footnote 5

Rankin, R., Austin, M. and Rice, J. 2011. Ecological classification system for the ecosystem status and trends report. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 1. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. ii + 14 p.

Return to Footnote 5 référence

Footnote 6

BC Ministry of Environment. 2006. Ecoregion classification system [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. (accessed 2 September, 2009).

Return to Footnote 6 référence

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Figures and Tables

 

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Ecozone+ Basics

Figure 1. Overview map of the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+.

Overview map

Long Description for Figure 1

This map of the WIBE shows the locations of cities/towns and bodies of water which are referred to within this report. This ecozone+ is located entirely in British Columbia, in the south central part of the province to the Washington, USA border. Cities in the northern part of the ecozone+ include, from west to east, Lillooet, Lytton, Merritt, Kamloops, and Salmon Arm. Cities in the south, from west to east, include Hope, Princeton, Keremeos, Osoyoos, Penticton, Kelowna and Grand Forks. Pemberton is shown but is outside the ecozone+. Rivers and lakes labeled with the ecozone+, from north to south, are the Fraser River, North Thompson River, South Thompson River, Kalamalka Lake, Okanagan Lake, Kettle River, Skaha Lake, Okanagan River, and the Similkameen River. Adams and Shuswap lakes are on the northeastern border of the ecozone+.

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The Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ (WIBE), shown in Figure 1 and summarized in Table 1, occupies the southern interior portion of British Columbia (BC) (see national map on page ii). The boundary of the WIBE is the same as the Southern Interior Ecoprovince of BC's Ecoregion Classification System. Footnote 6

The WIBE includes a wide range of ecosystem types, including forests, grasslands, wetlands, large and small lakes, major rivers and small streams, and some alpine and glaciated areas. It is unique in Canada for representing the northern extent of the Great Basin desert and has very high species richness and species rarity.

The ecozone+ has hot, dry summers, moderate winters, and, because it is largely in the rain shadow of the coastal mountains, relatively low precipitation.

Table 1. Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ overview.
Area57,071 km2 (0.6% of Canada)
ClimateDominated by the rain shadow effect of the coastal mountains, which limits
precipitation
Hot, dry summers and moderate winters
River basinsThompson River draining to the Fraser River
Fraser River draining to the Pacific Ocean
Okanagan River draining to the Columbia River in Washington State
Similkameen River draining to the Okanogan River in Washington State
Kettle River draining to the Columbia River in Washington State
GeologySurficial materials primarily till (70%)
Contains the only significant concentration of black and brown chernozem
soils in BC footnote Footnote 7
SettlementKamloops is the largest settlement in the Thompson region
Lillooet is the largest settlement along the portion of the Fraser River within this ecozone+
Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton are the largest settlements in the Okanagan
region
Princeton is the largest settlement in the Similkameen region
Grand Forks is the largest settlement in the Kettle region
From 1971 to 2006, the population of the ecozone+ more than doubled,
principally due to growth in the Thompson and Okanagan regions
EconomyServices, agriculture, and forestry are major employers
DevelopmentThe central Okanagan (Kelowna and surroundings) and south Okanagan (Penticton and surroundings) are experiencing high growth rates
National/global significanceThe WIBE includes many species at risk and is ecologically unique in Canada, because parts of the ecozone+ are the northward extension of the Great Basin sagebrush-dominated desert and its grasslands Footnote 8

Jurisdictions: The WIBE is contained entirely within BC. The traditional territories for the Northern Shuswap Treaty Society (Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw Nation), St'at'imc Nation, Tsilhqot'in Nation, Lil'wat Nation/Mount Currie, N'Quat'Qua, Sto:lo Tribal Council, Peters, Stó:lo Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association, Westbank, and Yale overlap the WIBE boundaries. Esk'etemc, In-SHUCK-ch Nation, Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council, Laich-Kwil-Tach Council of Chiefs, Stoney Indian Band, Union Bar, Chehalis, Skwah, Douglas, and Xwémalhkwu Nation are adjacent to the WIBE.

Human population growth is increasing rapidly in the ecozone+ (Figure 2), particularly in the north, central, and south Okanagan (Figure 3). Parts of the landscape have been substantially altered for urban development and agricultural conversion. Forestry is also a major industry.

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Figure 2. Human population from 1971 to 2006 in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+.
For these data, the WIBE was approximated by the Southern Montane Cordillera Ecoprovince of the National Ecological Classification System. There are minor discrepancies between these borders, but no cities occur in the non-overlapping areas.
Source: compiled from Statistics Canada, 2000 Footnote 9 and 2008 Footnote 10

Human population from 1971 to 2006

Long Description for Figure 2

This bar graph shows the following information:

Data for figure 2
Number of People (thousands) - 1971Number of People (thousands) - 1976Number of People (thousands) - 1981Number of People (thousands) - 1986Number of People (thousands) - 1991Number of People (thousands) - 1996Number of People (thousands) - 2001Number of People (thousands) - 2006
222,223287,420326,478328,555378,396441,410456,158481,890

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Figure 3. British Columbia regional districts in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+.
The Okanagan is comprised of the three districts in green.
Source: BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2007 Footnote 11

Human population from 1971 to 2006

Long Description for Figure 3

This map shows the regional districts within the WIBE. These include, from northwest to southeast, Squamish-Lillooet, Thompson-Nicola, North Okanagan, Central Okanagan, Okanagan-Similkameen, and the Kootenay Boundary.

Based on 2005 remote sensing data, forest is the predominant land cover in the WIBE (Figure 4). Approximately 14% is covered by grassland/shrubland habitats, which support high biodiversity and provide corridors for animal movement from the Columbia Basin to the south into the shrub-steppe and interior forests to the north.

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Figure 4. Distribution of major biomes in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ by remote sensing, 2005. Blue areas represent inland water bodies derived from the National Atlas of Canada; these were not included in the analyses. Source: Ahern et al., 2011 Footnote 12.

Distribution of major biomes

Long Description for Figure 4

This graphic presents a map and a stacked bar graph of the land cover of the WIBE, in 2005. The predominant land cover is forest (73%) located throughout the ecozone+. Shrubland is in the northwest (12%) as is snow and ice (2%) and low vegetation and barren (5%). Agricultural land (6%) and grassland (2%) run along low lying areas along the major rives in this ecozone+.

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West Kettle River
West Kettle River © R. Rae

Okanagan Lake shore
Okanagan Lake shore, near Summerland © R. Rae

Landscape on Okanagan Mountain
Landscape on Okanagan Mountain two years after the 2003 wildfire;
Okanagan Lake beyond © R. Rae

Mountain goats
Mountain goats, Cathedral Park © R. Rae

Ponderosa pine
Ponderosa pine, near Summerland © R. Rae

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Content Footnote

Footnote 6

BC Ministry of Environment. 2006. Ecoregion classification system [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. (accessed 2 September, 2009).

Return to Footnote 6 référence

Footnote 7

Geological Survey of Canada. 1994. Surficial materials of Canada, map 1880A [online]. | Natural Resources Canada. (accessed 23 October, 2009).

Return to Footnote 7 référence

Footnote 8

Pitt, M. and Hooper, T.D. 1994. Threats to biodiversity of grasslands in British Columbia. In Biodiversity in British Columbia: our changing environment. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. Chapter 20. pp. 279-292.

Return to Footnote 8 référence

Footnote 9

Statistics Canada. 2000. Human activity and the environment 2000. Human Activity and the Environment, Catalogue No. 11-509-XPE. Statistics Canada. Ottawa, ON. 332 p.

Return to Footnote 9 référence

Footnote 10

Statistics Canada. 2008. Human activity and the environment: annual statistics 2007 and 2008. Human Activity and the Environment, Catalogue No. 16-201-X. Statistics Canada. Ottawa, ON. 159 p.

Return to Footnote 10 référence

Footnote 11

Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 2007. British Columbia regional districts [online]. Government of BC.
(accessed 11 July, 2013). Data to produce map downloaded from DataBC

Return to Footnote 11 référence

Footnote 12

Ahern, F., Frisk, J., Latifovic, R. and Pouliot, D. 2011. Monitoring ecosystems remotely: a selection of trends measured from satellite observations of Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 17. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON.

Return to Footnote 12 référence

Return to Table of Contents

Key Findings at a Glance: National and Ecozone+ Level

Table 2 presents the national key findings from Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010 Footnote 3 together with a summary of the corresponding trends in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ (WIBE). Topic numbers refer to the national key findings in Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010. Topics that are greyed out were identified as key findings at a national level but were either not relevant or not assessed for this ecozone+ and do not appear in the body of this document. Evidence for the statements that appear in this table is found in the subsequent text organized by key finding. See the Preface on page i.

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Table 2: Key findings overview

2.1 Theme: Biomes
Themes and topicsKey Findings: NationalKey Findings: Western Interior Basin Ecozone Table Footnote a
1. ForestsAt a national level, the extent of forests has changed little since 1990; at a regional level, loss of forest extent is significant in some places. The structure of some Canadian forests, including species composition, age classes, and size of intact patches of forest, has changed over longer time frames.Forests cover 73% of the WIBE. Intact forests larger than 100 km2 cover 22%, largely in the mountainous western portion. The extent of lower elevation forests declined between 1800 and 2005; for example, Douglas-fir ecosystems declined by 27% and ponderosa pine ecosystems by 53%.
2. GrasslandsNative grasslands have been reduced to a fraction of their original extent. Although at a slower pace, declines continue in some areas. The health of many existing grasslands has also been compromised by a variety of stressors.Grasslands cover 2% of the WIBE. Although the rate of loss has slowed since 1990, 16% of grasslands were lost to development between 1850 and 2005. Grasslands outside of protected areas are at risk of conversion to agricultural, commercial, and residential uses. Stressors that compromise grasslands in the WIBE include invasive species and fire suppression.
3. WetlandsHigh loss of wetlands has occurred in southern Canada; loss and degradation continue due to a wide range of stressors. Some wetlands have been or are being restored.Wetlands occupy <1% of the WIBE. Between 1800 and 2005, 85% of low-elevation wetlands were lost. Wetlands continue to be lost and degraded by urbanization, intensive agriculture, and, in some areas, heavy recreational use. In addition, invasive species and climate change pose serious threats.
4. Lakes and riversTrends over the past 40 years influencing biodiversity in lakes and rivers include seasonal changes in magnitude of stream flows, increases in river and lake temperatures, decreases in lake levels, and habitat loss and fragmentation.Lakes, rivers, and streams cover 2% of the WIBE. There are high demands on scarce water supplies. Lake level fluctuations, tributary stream habitat loss, changes in nutrient levels, and an invasive shrimp have altered Okanagan Lake. Most Okanagan streams and headwater lakes have been dammed. Although 1 km is being restored, 93% of the Okanagan River was altered by channelization.
5. CoastalCoastal ecosystems, such as estuaries, salt marshes, and mud flats, are believed to be healthy in less-developed coastal areas, although there are exceptions. In developed areas, extent and quality of coastal ecosystems are declining as a result of habitat modification, erosion, and sea-level rise.Not relevant
6. MarineObserved changes in marine biodiversity over the past 50 years have been driven by a combination of physical factors and human activities, such as oceanographic and climate variability and overexploitation. While certain marine mammals have recovered from past overharvesting, many commercial fisheries have not.Not relevant
7. Ice across biomesDeclining extent and thickness of sea ice, warming and thawing of permafrost, accelerating loss of glacier mass, and shortening of lake-ice seasons are detected across Canada's biomes. Impacts, apparent now in some areas and likely to spread, include effects on species and food webs.Glaciers in the Bridge River Basin retreated by 8 km2 (7%) between 1995 and 2005 and Place Glacier experienced a 37-metrereduction of ice thickness from 1964 to 2008.

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2.2 Theme: Human/Ecosystem Interactions
Themes and topicsKey Findings: NationalKey Findings: Western Interior Basin Ecozone Table Footnote a
8. Protected areasBoth the extent and representativeness of the protected areas network have increased in recent years. In many places, the area protected is well above the United Nations 10% target. It is below the target in highly developed areas and the oceans.In 2009, 5,000 km2 (9%) of the WIBE was federally or provincially protected. The Interior Dry Plateau natural region, characterized by the South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen, is unrepresented in the national park system.
9. StewardshipStewardship activity in Canada is increasing, both in number and types of initiatives and in participation rates. The overall effectiveness of these activities in conserving and improving biodiversity and ecosystem health has not been fully assessed.Many organizations, agencies, and groups are involved in stewardship activities in the WIBE. In the South Okanagan, covenants, conservation organizations, and landowners care for 13% of the shrub-steppe and wetland/riparian habitats that occur on private lands. There are no syntheses of participation rates or stewardship activities for the WIBE.
Ecosystem conversion Table Footnote aEcosystem conversion was initially identified as a nationally recurring key finding and information was subsequently compiled and assessed for the WIBE. In the final version of the national report, Footnote 3 information related to ecosystem conversion was incorporated into other key findings. This information is maintained as a separate key finding for the WIBE.Ecosystem conversion and fragmentation are the primary threats to biodiversity in the WIBE. Historically, most high-value riparian and wetland ecosystems and a substantial portion of low elevation grassland/shrubland ecosystems were converted to other uses. From 1991–2001, >22% of low elevation habitats were converted. The WIBE also has the second highest road density (1.7 km of road/km2) among the 10 regions of BC.
10. Invasive non-native speciesInvasive non-native species are a significant stressor on ecosystem functions, processes, and structure in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. This impact is increasing as numbers of invasive non-native species continue to rise and their distributions continue to expand.Impacts of invasive non-native species in the WIBE include lowered real estate values, reduced quality of fish habitat, displaced native species, clogged irrigation pipes, decreased quality of forage for wildlife and livestock, and reduced recreational opportunities. Biological, chemical, and mechanical control are used to manage the priority invasives among the hundreds of non-native species that have been recorded in the WIBE.
11. ContaminantsConcentrations of legacy contaminants in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems have generally declined over the past 10 to 40 years. Concentrations of many emerging contaminants are increasing in wildlife; mercury is increasing in some wildlife in some areas.In the 1990s, increased contaminant levels were detected in osprey downstream from a pulp mill and in American robins in orchards. In contrast, mercury and DDT were within concentrations considered safe for human consumption for fish from Okanagan Lake.
12. Nutrient loading and algal bloomsInputs of nutrients to both freshwater and marine systems, particularly in urban and agriculture-dominated landscapes, have led to algal blooms that may be a nuisance and/or may be harmful. Nutrient inputs have been increasing in some places and decreasing in others.The WIBE is the only agricultural ecozone+ in Canada where the residual soil nitrogen decreased from 1981 to 2006. Nutrient loading in several of the Okanagan Valley lakes, such as Skaha and Osoyoos, declined from the early 1970s to 2001 due to reductions in nutrient loading from agricultural sources and sewage treatment plants.
13. Acid depositionThresholds related to ecological impact of acid deposition, including acid rain, are exceeded in some areas, acidifying emissions are increasing in some areas, and biological recovery has not kept pace with emission reductions in other areas.The soils and lakes in the WIBE are thought to be at low risk of any small changes in rain pH, so acid deposition is not considered to be a concern for this ecozone+.
14. Climate changeRising temperatures across Canada, along with changes in other climatic variables over the past 50 years, have had both direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems.From 1950 to 2007, the temperature in the WIBE increased at most times of the year. Precipitation increased in spring and fall whereas snow decreased. The seasonality of stream flow changed, with earlier onsets of spring freshets, lower flows in late summer, and higher flows in winter.
15. Ecosystem servicesCanada is well endowed with a natural environment that provides ecosystem services upon which our quality of life depends. In some areas where stressors have impaired ecosystem function, the cost of maintaining ecosystem services is high and deterioration in quantity, quality, and access to ecosystem services is evident.Ecosystem services in the WIBE include water, crop pollination, and nutrient cycling which are necessary for food production and potable water. Other services include forests, wildlife, and fish, which are harvested either commercially or recreationally. Although ecosystem services have not been quantified for the WIBE, a project to estimate the value of ecosystem services supported by the last remaining natural section of the Okanagan River was initiated in 2012/13.

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2.3 Theme: Habitat, Wildlife, and Ecosystem Processes
Themes and topicsKey Findings: NationalKey Findings: Western Interior Basin Ecozone Table Footnote a
16. Agricultural landscapes as habitatThe potential capacity of agricultural landscapes to support wildlife in Canada has declined over the past 20 years, largely due to the intensification of agriculture and the loss of natural and semi-natural land cover.Agricultural lands in the WIBE are dominated by Unimproved Pasture (67% in 2006), which provides breeding and feeding habitat for 80 species of wildlife. However, average wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land declined from 70% to 61% between 1986 and 2006.
17. Species of special economic, cultural, or ecological interestMany species of amphibians, fish, birds, and large mammals are of special economic, cultural, or ecological interest to Canadians. Some of these are declining in number and distribution, some are stable, and others are healthy or recovering.The WIBE is ecologically unique in Canada as the northern extension of the Great Basin Desert. It has high species richness and assemblages of plants and animals that occur nowhere else in Canada. It also has a large number of species and ecosystems of conservation concern. Several bird and fish populations have declined over the past 30–40 years. Most ungulate and large carnivore populations are currently stable or increasing.
18. Primary productivityPrimary productivity has increased on more than 20% of the vegetated land area of Canada over the past 20 years, as well as in some freshwater systems. The magnitude and timing of primary productivity are changing throughout the marine system.Primary productivity increased for 16,713 km2(30.1%) and decreased for 1,035 km2(1.9%) of the WIBE between 1985 and 2006. The increases may be the result of regeneration in mixed forests; the reasons for the decreases are not known.
19. Invasive non-native speciesThe dynamics of natural disturbance regimes, such as fire and native insect outbreaks, are changing and this is reshaping the landscape. The direction and degree of change vary.In the 2000s, the burned area increased more than three-fold to >1,500 km2 (2.6%) of the ecozone+, possibly due to changing climate, increased fuel loads due to fire suppression prior to the 1990s, and the interaction between forest fires and outbreaks of insects. Mountain pine beetles peaked in 2008 when they affected 8,100 km2. In BC, western spruce budworms are found nearly exclusively in the WIBE where they peaked in 2007 affecting 3,800 km2.
20. Food websFundamental changes in relationships among species have been observed in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. The loss or reduction of important components of food webs has greatly altered some ecosystems.Over the past 40 years, an invasive non-native shrimp altered food web dynamics in Okanagan Lake and contributed to the decline of native salmonids. A temporary decline in mule deer resulted in increased cougar predation on mountain goat in the 1990s. Populations of deer recovered quickly but mountain goats were slow to recover.

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2.4 Theme: Science/Policy Interface
Themes and topicsKey Findings: NationalKey Findings: Western Interior Basin Ecozones Table Footnote a
21. Biodiversity monitoring, research, information management, and reportingLong-term, standardized, spatially complete, and readily accessible monitoring information, complemented by ecosystem research, provides the most useful findings for policy-relevant assessments of status and trends. The lack of this type of information in many areas has hindered development of this assessment.Ecosystem monitoring programs and research studies provide information on biodiversity for the WIBE. However, gaps include traditional and local ecological knowledge and data on contaminants. In addition, monitoring and research are unevenly distributed, with underrepresentation of the northern Okanagan.
22. Rapid change and thresholdsGrowing understanding of rapid and unexpected changes, interactions, and thresholds, especially in relation to climate change, points to a need for policy that responds and adapts quickly to signals of environmental change in order to avert major and irreversible biodiversity losses.Population declines of birds and fish, the loss of plant communities such as grasslands, and changes in water availability are evidence or indicators of abrupt or unexpected ecological change.

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Table 2 Footnote

Footnote 1

This key finding is not numbered because it does not correspond to a key finding in the national report.

Return to Footnote a referrer


Content Footnote

Footnote 1

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada. 2010. Canadian biodiversity strategy: ecosystem status and trends 2010. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. vi + 142 p.

Return to Footnote 3 référence

Return to Table of Contents

Theme: Biomes

Key finding 1
Forests

Theme Biomes

National key finding
At a national level, the extent of forests has changed little since 1990; at a regional level, loss of forest extent is significant in some places. The structure of some Canadian forests, including species composition, age classes, and size of intact patches of forest, has changed over longer time frames.

Forests cover 73% of the ecozone+. Footnote 12 Forests of the WIBE are classified into eight biogeoclimatic zones. Footnote 13 The Interior Douglas-fir, Montane Spruce, and Engelmann Spruce-–Subalpine Fir zones –in that order of extent–comprised 84% of the total forested area in 2005 (Figure 5). The Ponderosa Pine zone covers 5% of the WIBE. This zone, along with the Bunchgrass zone, occupies lower elevations where land use is most intense and where habitat occurs for many species at risk. The WIBE includes three of the four zones identified in 2008 as areas of greatest conservation concern in BC (Bunchgrass, Ponderosa Pine, and the xeric site series of the Interior Douglas-fir zones). Footnote 14

Figure 5. Biogeoclimatic zones of the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2008. Biogeoclimatic zones that make up < 1% of the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ are not shown.
Source: data from Hectares BC, 2009 Footnote 13

v

Long Description for Figure 5

This pie chart shows the eight biogeoclimatic zones that make up > 1% of the WIBE. These are: Bunchgrass (3%), Coastal Western Hemlock (1%), Engelmann Spruce-Subalpine Fir (21%), Interior Cedar-Hemlock (3%), Interior Douglas-fir (41%), Interior Mountain-heather Alpine (4%), Montane Spruce (22%), and Ponderosa Pine (5%).

 

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An analysis of forest density using remote sensing showed that in 2005 almost half of 1 km2 cells within the WIBE were more than 80% forested. Footnote 12. Twenty-two percent of the WIBE area is covered by intact forest landscape fragments larger than 100 km2 (Figure 6). A landscape fragment is defined as a contiguous mosaic, naturally occurring and essentially undisturbed by significant human influence. It is a mosaic of various natural ecosystems including forest, bog, water, tundra, and rock outcrops. These intact fragments are primarily located in the mountainous western part of the ecozone+.

Figure 6. Intact forest landscape fragments larger than 100 km2 in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2006.
Source: Lee et al., 2006 Footnote 15

Intact forest landscape

Long Description for Figure 6

This map shows that 22% percent of the WIBE area was covered by intact forest landscape fragments larger than 100 km2 in 2005. These intact fragments were primarily located in the mountainous western part of the ecozone+.

 

Approximately one-third of the forests in the WIBE are younger than 100 years, another one-third are 101–140 years old, and the remaining one-third are older than 140 years (Figure 7). Footnote 16

Figure 7. Forest age class distribution in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2008.
Source: data from Hectares BC, 2009 Footnote 13

Forest age class distribution

Long Description for Figure 7

This pie chart shows the proportion of forest age classes: less than one year (>1%); 1-20 years (2%); 21-40 years (4%); 41-60 years (3%); 61-80 years (9%); 81-100 years (11%); 101-120 years (17%); 121-140 years (17%); 141-250 years (32%); more than250 years (4%).

 

Forest harvest

The WIBE contains about 860 million m3 of wood in commercially harvested species. Footnote 13 The 2008 annual allowable harvest in the WIBE was approximately 7.3 million m3 (3.3 million m3 in the Okanagan-Shuswap Forest District and 4 million m3 in the Kamloops Forest District). Footnote 17

Commercial harvest and planting have changed the tree composition of forests. The BC Ministry of Forests analyzed the change in forest composition in monocultures or mixed stands of conifers and deciduous trees. The report provides a comparison of the proportion of one tree species dominated stands (monocultures) and mixed tree species stands by addressing their species composition before and after harvest. There was no analysis of the variety of tree species present. The analysis distinguished, for example, whether a ponderosa pine-dominant stand had changed to a Douglas-fir-dominant stand, but it did not show a change in status for a spruce–pine stand that was converted to a nearly pure pine stand. Footnote 18

The report also separated stands before and after harvest under pre-1987, 1987–1995, and 1995–2004 policy regimes. Prior to 1987, primary silvicultural obligation belonged to the provincial government. From 1987 to 1995, obligations fell to licensees. The years 1995 to 2004 coincide with the implementation of the Forest Practices Code and the Forest and Range Practices Act. Reforestation obligations commence at the time of harvest and end when the reforested stand of trees is declared "free growing." Free growing obligations can be met either naturally (natural regeneration) or artificially (planting). Footnote 18

Overall, forest stands with a single tree species (monoculture) declined in areas without timber harvest but increased in harvested areas. Approximately 39% of the non-harvested forest land base was monoculture prior to 1987. From 1987 to 2004, monocultures declined by 9%. However, the amount of monoculture at free growing has increased by about 9% post-1987, since licensees and BC Timber Sales had the primary silvicultural obligation (Figure 8). For deciduous stands at the free growing stage, the amount of mixed stands increased from 12 km2before harvest to 373 km2 after harvest.

Figure 8. Change in area of monocultures before and after 1987. Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ boundary is approximate.
Source: BC Ministry of Forests and Range, 2010. Footnote 19

Change in area of monocultures

Long Description for Figure 8

This figure shows two maps of British Columbia with polygons coloured according to the rate of change in area of monocultures. The first map shows areas harvested up to 1987. Most areas within the WIBE had a 6% decrease in monoculture with a small section in the southwest experiencing a 1-5% increase and a small area in the southeast experiencing no change. The second map shows areas harvested after 1987 where most of the area experienced a 6% increase in monoculture except for about 20% concentrated on the east side that experienced a 1-5% increase.

 

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Habitat loss

The extent of lower elevation forests declined from 1800 to 2005. An analysis of aerial photographs of the Okanagan and Lower Similkameen valleys from 1800, 1938, and 2005 illustrated losses of 27% for Douglas-fir–pinegrass gentle slope forest ecosystems (Figure 9) and 53% for ponderosa pine–bluebunch wheatgrass gentle slope forest ecosystems (Figure 10). Footnote 20

Additional information about changes in forested ecosystems is in the Ecosystem conversion section on page 40 and in the Natural disturbance section on page 79.

Figure 9. Change in the Douglas-fir-pinegrass gentle slope forest ecosystem in 1800, 1938, and 2005.
Source: Lea, 2008. Footnote 20

Change in the Douglas-fir-pinegrass gentle slope forest ecosystem

Long Description for Figure 9

Three maps show the extent of lower elevation forests in 1800, 1938, and 2005 around Lake Okanagan from north of Vernon to Osoyoos. From 1800 to 2005, 27% of the Douglas-fir–pinegrass gentle slope forest ecosystem was lost, particularly from north of Vernon.

Figure 10. Change in the ponderosa pine–bluebunch wheatgrass gentle slope forest ecosystem in 1800, 1938, and 2005.
Source: Lea, 2008. Footnote 20

Change in the ponderosa pine–bluebunch wheatgrass

Long Description for Figure 10

Three maps show the extent of lower elevation forests in 1800, 1938, and 2005 around Lake Okanagan from north of Vernon to Osoyoos. From 1800 to 2005, 53% of the ponderosa pine–bluebunch wheatgrass gentle slope forest ecosystem was lost, particularly from around Kelowna.

 

Key finding 2
Grasslands

Theme Biomes

National key finding
Native grasslands have been reduced to a fraction of their original extent. Although at a slower pace, declines continue in some areas. The health of many existing grasslands has also been compromised by a variety of stressors.

Top of Page

Native grasslands comprised 2% of the WIBE in 2005. These grasslands are the northernmost extension of the Pacific Northwest Bunchgrass type, Footnote 21 also described as the Great Basin Sagebrush Desert Biome. Footnote 22These grasslands are unique in Canada because they are dominated by bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoreogneria spicata), a species that rarely occurs east of the Rocky Mountains, and because they are differentiated from grasslands in Washington and Oregon due to a higher proportion of boreal species in their plant and animal communities. Footnote 23 Footnote 24

BC's grasslands are one of Canada's most endangered ecosystems. Footnote 23, Footnote 25, Footnote 26, Footnote 27, Footnote 28. Low-elevation grassland communities are the rarest land cover type in BC and are concentrated in three of BC's four biogeoclimatic zones of conservation concern (Interior Douglas-fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Bunchgrass). Footnote 14 Grasslands provide habitat for species at risk and contribute disproportionately to biodiversity. Footnote 25, Footnote 26 For example, over 30% of BC's species at risk including American badgers (Taxidea taxus jeffersonii), burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia), pallid bats (Antrozous pallidus), western rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus), and long-billed curlews (Numenius americanus) live in the grasslands of the WIBE. Footnote 29 Over 40% of BC's vascular plant flora are found in grasslands Footnote 27 even though grasslands cover less than 1% of BC. Footnote 27

Habitat loss

Since 1850, 1,188 km2 (16%) of the WIBE's grasslands have been converted to agriculture, high-density urban development, and low-density development (Figure 11). Footnote 27, Footnote 30 Although grasslands continue to be lost in some areas, most of the loss (15%, or 1,114 km2) occurred before 1990 (Figure 12). The greatest losses prior to 1990 occurred in the Northern Okanagan Basin Ecosection, with 48% of its grasslands lost, and in the Southern Okanagan Highland Ecosection, with 39% lost (Figure 12). Footnote 31

Figure 11. Distribution of historic and current (2004) grasslands in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+.
.Source: updated from the Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia, 2004. Footnote 31

Distribution of historic and current (2004) grasslands

Long Description for Figure 11

The main map shows the extent of grasslands concentrated along the main river systems in the WIBE. Historically there were more grasslands around Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton. An inset map shows the grassland regions for all of BC. The largest concentration is in the WIBE and north of the WIBE. There are also grasslands in the northeast and furthest east in the province.

Figure 12. Amount of grassland from the mid-1800s to 2005 in the BC southern interior by ecosection.
Source: BC Ministry of Environment, 2007a Footnote 30; modified from data produced by the Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia, 2004, 2007. Footnote 29, Footnote 31 This information is provided by the Province of BC under the Open Government License for Government of BC Information v.BC1.0.

Amount of grassland from the mid-1800s to 2005

Long Description for Figure 12

This horizontal stacked bar chart shows the following information:

Data for figure 12
EcosectionGrasslands
lost mid 1800s
- 1990 (km2)
Grasslands
lost 1990 -
2005 (km2)
Remaining
Grasslands
(2005) (km2)
Southern Thompson Upland143.501323
Pavilion Ranges330366.8
Thompson Basin23218.21002.2
Okanagan Range25.40206.6
Southern Okanagan Highland77.90125
Northern Okanagan Basin329.217380.6
Southern Okanagan Basin69.113.7320.5

 

From 1800 to 2005 in the Okanagan and Lower Similkameen valleys, the antelope-brush–needle-and-thread grass shrub-steppe ecosystem declined by 68% (Figure 13), the big sagebrush shrub-steppe ecosystem declined by 33% (Figure 14), and the Idaho fescue–bluebunch wheatgrass grassland ecosystem declined by 77% (Figure 15). Footnote 20 Footnote 32 The loss of these ecosystems was mainly due to development at lower elevations. Footnote 20 These three ecosystems are presently in early seral stages and invaded by non-native species due to decades of intensive livestock grazing. Footnote 20 Further, many of the richest soils have been cultivated, Footnote 33 Footnote 34 leaving remaining grasslands on less productive soils.

Grasslands in the WIBE are at risk in and outside of protected areas. Grasslands outside of protected areas could be converted to agricultural, commercial, and residential uses. In 2004, 40% of grasslands were in private holdings whereas only 8% of grasslands were in protected areas. Footnote 30 The extent of grasslands, whether protected or not, can also be reduced by the alteration of natural disturbance regimes. For example, the suppression of wildfires in the Ponderosa Pine biogeoclimatic zone allowed forests to encroach into grasslands. Footnote 35 Footnote 36 Footnote 37 Footnote 38 About 90% of all BC's grasslands are grazed by domestic livestock, degrading the ecosystems and facilitating the spread of invasive plants. Footnote 31 In a study of 17 grazed grassland sites in the Southern Interior, non-native plants covered 35% of the sites with some sites having 85% coverage of non-native species. Footnote 39 Increasing pressure from recreational activities, such as disturbances from off-road vehicles and conversion to golf courses, also threaten grasslands. Footnote 31Additional information can be found in the Invasive non-native species section on page 44 and the Natural disturbance section on page 79.

Figure 13. Change in the antelope-brush–needle-and-thread grass shrub-steppe ecosystem in 1800, 1938, and 2005.
Source: Lea, 2008. Footnote 20

map

Long Description for Figure 13

Three maps show the extent of lower elevation grasslands in 1800, 1938, and 2005 around Lake Okanagan from north of Vernon to Osoyoos. From 1800 to 2005, 68% of the antelope-brush–needle-and-thread grass shrub-steppe ecosystem was lost throughout its range from Kelowna to Osoyoos.

Figure 14. Change in the big sagebrush shrub-steppe ecosystem in 1800, 1938, and 2005.
Source: Lea, 2008. Footnote 20

map

Long Description for Figure 14

Three maps show the extent of lower elevation grasslands in 1800, 1938, and 2005 around Lake Okanagan from north of Vernon to Osoyoos. From 1800 to 2005, 33% of the big sagebrush shrub-steppe ecosystem was lost, particularly around Kelowna, Penticton, and west of Osoyoos.

Figure 15. Change in the Idaho fescue bluebunch wheatgrass grassland ecosystem in 1800, 1938, and 2005.
Source: Lea, 2008. Footnote 20

map

Long Description for Figure 15

Three maps show the extent of lower elevation grasslands in 1800, 1938, and 2005 around Lake Okanagan from north of Vernon to Osoyoos. From 1800 to 2005, 27% of the Idaho fescue bluebunch wheatgrass grassland ecosystem was lost throughout its range from Vernon to Kelowna.

 

Key finding 3
Wetlands

Theme Biomes

National key finding
High loss of wetlands has occurred in southern Canada; loss and degradation continue due to a wide range of stressors. Some wetlands have been or are being restored.

Top of Page

Wetlands occupy a small portion (<1%) of the WIBE due to the region's climate, soil, and topographic features. Footnote 40 Footnote 41 Nevertheless, they play a crucial ecological role particularly because wetlands in arid areas support more species than other ecosystems. Footnote 40 Footnote 42 Wetlands of the WIBE support many species at risk such as Wallis' dark saltflat tiger beetles (Cicindela parowana wallisi), Great Basin spadefoots (Spea intermontana), short-rayed alkali asters (Symphyotrichum frondosum), and small-flowered lipocarphas (Lipocarpha micrantha). Footnote 43

Most wetlands in this area are located in valley bottoms where development is also concentrated and 85% of wetlands have been lost since European settlement--mainly due to conversion to agriculture and more recently for urban development. Footnote 44 Footnote 20 In 1800, the South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen valleys had 178 km2 of wetlands, by 1938 the area had decreased to 69 km2, and by 2005 there were fewer than 30 km2 remaining. Footnote 20

The loss among different wetland communities in the South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen valleys has varied. For example, from 1800 to 2005, shrubby water birch–red-osier dogwood riparian wetlands declined by 92% (Figure 16), black cottonwood–red-osier dogwood riparian floodplain by 63% (Figure 17), and cattail marshes by 41%. Footnote 20 Wetlands continue to be lost and degraded by urbanization, intensive agriculture, and, in some areas, heavy recreational use. Footnote 20 Footnote 45 Footnote 46 In addition, invasive species and climate change pose serious threats. Footnote 47

Additional information can be found in the Ecosystem conversion section on page 40 and the Invasive non-native species section on page 44.

Figure 16. Change in the water birch–red-osier dogwood riparian shrub swamp wetland ecosystem in 1800, 1938, and 2005.
Source: Lea, 2008. Footnote 20

map

Long Description for Figure 16

Three maps show the extent of lower elevation wetlands in 1800, 1938, and 2005 around Lake Okanagan from north of Vernon to Osoyoos. From 1800 to 2005, 92% of the water birch–red-osier dogwood riparian shrub swamp wetland ecosystem was lost.

Figure 17. Change in the black cottonwood–red-osier dogwood riparian wetland ecosystem in 1800, 1938, and 2005.
Source: Lea, 2008. Footnote 20

map

Long Description for Figure 17

Three maps show the extent of lower elevation wetlands in 1800, 1938, and 2005 around Lake Okanagan from north of Vernon to Osoyoos. From 1800 to 2005, 63% of the black cottonwood–red-osier dogwood riparian wetland ecosystem was lost.

 

Key finding 4
Lakes and rivers

Theme Biomes

National key finding
Trends over the past 40 years influencing biodiversity in lakes and rivers include seasonal changes in magnitude of stream flows, increases in river and lake temperatures, decreases in lake levels, and habitat loss and fragmentation.

Top of Page

Approximately 2% of the WIBE area is covered by lakes, rivers, and streams. Footnote 13 These support diverse aquatic communities including species at risk such as chiselmouth fish (Acrocheilus alutaceus) and Rocky Mountain ridged mussels (Gonidea angulata). Anadromous salmon migrate to parts of the Okanagan Basin and the Thompson Basin; the Adams River is also an important breeding area for sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka).

Large lakes

The Thompson Basin contains Kamloops and Nicola lakes as well as portions of Shuswap and Adams lakes. The Thompson River forms at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers and flows to the Fraser River. West of Lillooet and draining to the Fraser River are the Downton Lake and Carpenter Lake reservoirs and the Anderson Lake and Seton Lake reservoirs. A portion of the Fraser River mainstem is captured in the WIBE.

The WIBE also contains a chain of lakes along the Okanagan Valley floor that flow via the Okanagan/Okanogan River (Canadian and U.S. spellings, respectively) into the Columbia River in Washington State. Wood and Kalamalka lakes drain into Okanagan Lake, the largest in the series, and then Skaha, Vaseux, and Osoyoos lakes. Osoyoos Lake straddles the Canada–U.S. border.

Annual net inflow to Okanagan Lake is variable (Figure 18) and influences water levels (Figure 19), which affect the annual availability of spawning habitat for the shore-spawning variant of kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka kennerlyi Footnote 48 The loss of tributary streams and the establishment of mysis shrimp (Mysis diluviana, formerly M. relicta), an invasive non-native species, also reduced populations of kokanee. More information about mysis shrimp can be found in the Invasive non-native species section on page 44 and the Food webs section on page 85.

Figure 18. Annual net inflow volume for Okanagan Lake, 1921–2011.
Source: BC River Forecast Centre, 2011 Footnote 49

Annual net inflow volume

Long Description for Figure 18

This bar chart shows the following information:

Inflow volume (millions m3)

This bar chart shows the following information:

Note: The average volume from 1981 to 2010 is marked on the figure (535 million m3).

Inflow volume (millions m3)
YearLevel (m)
1921421
1922361
1923500
1924157
1925303
1926144
1927488
1928800
192978
1930106
193188
1932443
1933616
1934557
1935630
1936444
1937445
1938361
1939235
1940187
1941397
1942557
1943241
1944286
1945506
1946693
1947261
1948934
1949537
1950589
1951717
1952534
1953419
1954701
1955535
1956662
1957495
1958451
1959782
1960399
1961358
1962340
1963256
1964586
1965488
1966239
1967310
1968492
1969506
1970130
1971533
1972943
1973182
1974861
1975549
1976702
1977182
1978593
1979234
1980333
1981608
1982834
1983988
1984713
1985292
1986595
1987188
1988224
1989400
1990673
1991639
1992154
1993669
1994398
1995614
1996996
19971401
1998595
1999839
2000580
2001247
2002492
2003124
2004440
2005489
2006586
2007350
2008365
2009140
2010424
2011602

 

 

Figure 19. Annual peak water level for Okanagan Lake, measured at Kelowna from 1944 to 2011.
Source: Environment Canada, 2009 Footnote 50

Annual peak water level

Long Description for Figure 19

This line graph illustrates the following:

Data for figure 19
YearLevel (m)
19441.783
19452.164
19462.548
19471.82
19482.838
1949-
19502.201
19512.515
19522.231
19532.262
19542.335
19552.182
19562.347
19572.216
19582.067
19592.14
19602.094
19612.054
19621.622
19631.667
19642.06
19652.091
19661.774
19671.832
19682.201
19692.161
19701.756
19712.167
19722.515
19731.847
19742.338
19752.176
19762.231
19772.106
19782.149
19792.042
19802.188
19812.274
19822.336
19832.209
19842.307
19852.111
19862.174
19872.099
19881.86
19892.23
19902.646
19912.193
19921.723
19932.237
19942.186
19952.119
19962.392
19972.617
19982.209
19992.186
20002.191
20011.984
20022.216
20031.855
20042.007
20052.291
20062.266
20072.007
20082.238
20091.814
20102.238
20112.369

 

From the mid-1970s to 2001, nutrient levels in Skaha and Osoyoos lakes (measured as total phosphorus concentration in spring) declined by 52% and 40% respectively. Footnote 51These reductions are attributed to the implementation of sewage treatment plants and reduced nutrient inputs from agricultural sources. Nutrient reductions reduced the amount of phytoplankton and increased the concentration of oxygen in the lower (hypolimnetic) layer of these lakes, which benefits salmonids. Since 2001, the concentrations of phosphorus have remained relatively stable (see Figure 38 in the Nutrient loading and algal blooms section on page 52).

Rare features

Saline lakes and ponds in Kamloops and the southern Okanagan contain unique chemistry, non-vascular plants, and invertebrates. Footnote 52 Footnote 53 In addition, microbialites--large coral-like structures produced by cyanobacteria--occur in two lakes near Lillooet. Footnote 14

Streams

Most of the watersheds in the WIBE are snowmelt-driven systems with high spring freshets. The spring freshet, from April to June, can account for as much as 90% of annual stream flow. Footnote 54 After the freshet, water flow generally remains low for the summer, fall, and winter. Changes in streamflow associated with climate change have been recorded in the Similkameen and Kettle rivers and are discussed in the Climate change section on page 55.

The BC Ministry of Environment sets water quality objectives for streams (and other waterbodies) that are or may be affected by human activities. Footnote 55All of the major rivers and many of the smaller streams in the WIBE are monitored regularly for physical, chemical, and biological characteristics to ensure that they meet the water quality objectives. For select sites, a Water Quality Index Footnote 56was calculated in 2002–2004 to assess the overall quality for the end uses of the water, such as drinking water, recreation, irrigation, or habitat for aquatic life. Footnote 57Water quality varied from marginal to good at eight sites from 2002 to 2004 (Table 3). For example, the water quality of the Fraser River at Hope improved through reductions of adsorbable organohalogens (AOX) and chloride from 1979–2004, due to abatement of pulp mill waste entering the river. The water quality of the Okanagan River at Oliver declined from 1980–2002 due to agricultural runoff (Table 3). Footnote 57

Table 3. Water Quality Index (WQI) in 2002–2004, rank, trend, concerns monitored, and the cause of the rank and trend for eight river sites in the WIBE.
Site (Years of Records)WQI Table Footnote a ScoreRank Table Footnote aTrendConcerns monitoredCause of Trend
Fraser River at Hope
(1979–2004)
84.2GoodImprovingAdsorbable organohalogens (AOX), chloridePulp mill waste abatement
Kettle River at Carson
(1980–2002)
71.0FairStable-No past trend
Kettle River at Midway
(1980–2002)
76.7FairStable-No past trend
Okanagan River at
Oliver (1980-2002)
70.8FairDeterioratingChlorideIrrigation return
flows
Salmon River at Salmon Arm (1985–2004)45.8MarginalStableFecal coliformsAgricultural non-point source abatement
Similkameen River at Princeton (1989–1997)83.2GoodStable-No past trend
Similkameen River
near US Border
(1979–2000)
82.7GoodStableArsenicUnknown
Thompson River at Spences Bridge
(1985–2004)
65.2FairStableChloride, dioxins, and furans in fishPulp mill waste abatement

Table Footnote

Footnote 1

The scoring and ranks are based on the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Water Quality Index (WQI) Footnote 56
Source: BC Ministry of Environment, 2007 Footnote 57

Return to Footnoteareferrer

Benthic invertebrates were collected from urban streams in the Okanagan for use as indicators of stream health. The benthic index of biological integrity (B-IBI) is a measure of the ability of streams to support biological communities including algae, invertebrates, fish, and aquatic mammals and birds. The B-IBI is a composite index based on a series of metrics characterizing the stream invertebrate community, including total taxa, number of plecoptera taxa, number of ephemeroptera taxa, number of intolerant taxa, and number of clinger taxa. These metrics responded predictably to cumulative watershed disturbance and ly distinguished urban and highly altered sites from low impact sites. Footnote 58Of 31 stream sites assessed, 68% were in fair, poor, or very poor condition, 16% were in good condition, and 16% were in excellent condition (Figure 20). Footnote 58 Low B-IBI scores suggest that these streams are subject to stressors such as the loss of riparian vegetation, channelization, stormwater inputs, and degraded water and sediment quality.

Figure 20. Okanagan Valley Benthic Index of Biological Integrity from 1999 to 2004.
The categories in parentheses indicate the estimated stream condition based on index score.
Source: Jensen, 2006 Footnote 58

graph

Long Description for Figure 20

This bar chart shows the following information:

Data for figure 20
B-IBI scoreNumber of streams
23-25 (excellent)5
19-22 (good)5
14-18 (fair)12
9-13 (poor)6
5-8 (very poor)3

 

Habitat alteration and loss

Increasing human population, urbanization, and a history of changes to lake and stream systems will continue to alter the hydrology and availability of water in the WIBE. The Okanagan Basin has experienced the most substantial modifications to its hydrologic regime as a result of the construction of storage dams, withdrawals of water for residential, agricultural, and industrial uses, and channelization of the Okanagan River. These impacts include changes in the annual rate of flow and alteration or removal of floodplains and riparian areas of the Okanagan River. Footnote 20

Dams

Most Okanagan streams and headwater lakes have been dammed; outlets of five of the six large Okanagan valley floor lakes are regulated, and there are reservoirs on many of the upstream tributaries. Footnote 59From 1913 to 1998, the number of dams on inflows to the Okanagan Lake increased from 11 to 147. Footnote 60

Portions of the land in the Thompson and Fraser basins within the WIBE are upstream of a dam (Figure 21). In addition, all the land area of the Okanagan, Similkameen, and Kettle watersheds is upstream of a dam. Okanagan, Skaha, Vaseux, and Osoyoos lakes all have outlet dams (Penticton, Skaha, McIntyre, and Zosel dams, respectively), and two of them are managed to allow the passage of fish upstream (Zosel Dam downstream of Osoyoos Lake and McIntyre Dam downstream of Vaseux Lake; the latter was modified in 2009). Footnote 61The passage of fish upstream is barred on the Similkameen River by the Enloe Dam (in Washington State), which was built at the site of a natural barrier to the passage of fish. There are no dams on the mainstems of the Fraser, North and South Thompson, and Kettle rivers.

Figure 21: Areas upstream of a dam in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2008.
Source: Austin and Eriksson, 2009. Footnote 52

map

Long Description for Figure 21

This map illustrates that approximately half of the land in the Thompson and Fraser basins within the WIBE are upstream of a dam. These areas are concentrated in the southern half and northwestern most portions of the ecozone+.

 

Water allocation and diversion

Water allocations and diversions from lakes and streams in the WIBE are primarily for residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, water storage, and habitat conservation uses. Water may also be allocated to power production and mining. Many parts of the WIBE, especially in the Okanagan and Thompson basins, have high rates of water diversion (Figure 22). The majority of water use restrictions on streams in BC are located in the WIBE. Footnote 62

Figure 22. Water diversion index, 2008.
Source: Austin and Eriksson, 2009 Footnote 52

map

Long Description for Figure 22

This map shows the amount of water diverted in the WIBE based on an index whose categories increase exponentially from 1-220 to 37,043-5,056,563,610. Diversion is greatest around Kamloops and Kelowna as well as the major rivers of the ecozone+.

 

Water availability and use is well studied in the Okanagan Basin because of the Okanagan's growing population and arid conditions. The volume of surface water licensed for withdrawal per year is 443,000 megalitres (or 443 million m3, equivalent to 177,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools). Footnote 63An additional 351,000 megalitres per year are licensed for conservation and other non-consumptive uses. Footnote 63In the Okanagan watershed, 235 streams are considered "fully recorded," meaning that there was no additional water available to allocate more water licences. Footnote 64

Actual water use is not necessarily equivalent to water allocation in that water may be licensed for use but the licensee does not use the total volume allowed by the license. From 1996 to 2006, the average annual water use in the Okanagan Basin was 219,000 megalitres with 67% of this volume coming from surface water sources. Footnote 63During that time period, water use was 187,000 megalitres in 1997 (a wet year) and 247,000 megalitres in 2003 (a dry year). Footnote 63The increased use in 2003 was mainly due to agricultural and outdoor residential uses. Water use also varies throughout the year with the rate increasing in spring when irrigation begins and peaking in late July to mid-August. The largest annual users of water in the Okanagan Basin are the agricultural sector (55%) and residential users (31%). Footnote 63

The Okanagan–Similkameen Basin has the lowest amount of water (measured as area, m2) per capita in Canada. Footnote 65Demand for water in this water-scarce region is rising with ongoing population, urban, and agricultural growth. Footnote 66The consequence of a limited initial water supply in conjunction with human demands for water, increased evaporation, and climate change impacts on the seasonal rate of flow is a scarcity of water for aquatic and riparian ecosystems, especially during drought years. Footnote 67

Channelization of Okanagan River

Sections of the Okanagan River were channelized for flood control and irrigation from 1949 to the mid-1950s (Figure 23). Footnote 68, Footnote 69 Before channelization, the Okanagan River regularly flooded communities within its floodplain; particularly large floods occurred in 1928, 1942, and 1948. Footnote 68The channelization shortened the river from 61 km to 41 km and decreased the areal extent of its floodplain from 2.12 km2 in 1800 to 0.15 km2 in 2005. Footnote 20 A few sections of the river remain in a natural or semi-natural state, Footnote 70but 93% of the natural river has been lost. Footnote 20

The Okanagan River Restoration Initiative, sponsored by the Canadian Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group, is restoring part of the river to its original configuration. The 1-km section, just north of Oliver, will provide important habitat for salmon and trout, reduce the risk of flooding of lands adjacent to the floodplain, and allow riparian vegetation to re-establish. Footnote 71

Figure 23. Photograph of Okanagan River where it drains into Skaha lake in 1949 (left) and 1982 (right).
Source: after Cannings 2003 Footnote 72Copyright © Province of BC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of the Province of BC.

map

Long Description for Figure 23

This figure consists of two historical photos: the first (1949) shows a natural, meandering river with side streams with floodplains on either side; the second (1982) shows a straight channel with dikes on either side.

 

Additional information about habitat loss and fragmentation in lakes and rivers can be found in the Ecosystem conversion section on page 40.

Key finding 7
Ice across biomes

Theme Biomes

National key finding
Declining extent and thickness of sea ice, warming and thawing of permafrost, accelerating loss of glacier mass, and shortening of lake-ice seasons are detected across Canada's biomes. Impacts, apparent now in some areas and likely to spread, include effects on species and food webs.

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Over time, the loss of glaciers can reduce the amount of water in glacial streams in summer and lead to increased water temperatures. Footnote 73Both streamflow and temperature are important factors for aquatic organisms, particularly cold-adapted species like salmonids. Footnote 73 Footnote 74 Footnote 75Since the mid-1970s, the loss of ice in southwestern Canada's glaciers has accelerated. Footnote 76

The World Glacier Monitoring Service recorded a 37 m reduction of ice thickness for Place Glacier, southwest of Lillooet near the western boundary of the WIBE, from 1964 to 2008 (Figure 24). Footnote 74The Bridge Glacier, northwest of Lillooet, declined from 92 km2 to 84 km2 (7%) between 1995 and 2005 (Figure 25). Footnote 75

Additional information related to glacier melt can be found in the Climate change section on page 55.

Figure 24. Cumulative average loss of ice thickness (cumulative sum of annual mass balances) for Place Glacier from 1964 to 2008.
Source: Demuth et al., 2009. Footnote 74Data provided by World Glacier Monitoring Service.

graph

Long Description for Figure 24

This line graph shows the following information:

Data for figure 24
YearMetres of water equivalent
1964-
1965-650
1966-540
1967-1750
1968-1880
1969-2090
1970-3600
1971-3940
1972-4280
1973-4580
1974-4020
1975-4260
1976-4176
1977-5403
1978-5836
1979-8046
1980-8966
1981-10056
1982-10806
1983-11246
1984-11586
1985-13466
1986-14776
1987-15626
1988-16596
1989-17636
1990-18574
1991-19564
1992-20357
1993-22637
1994-24647
1995-27133
1996-27354
1997-28242
1998-30692
1999-30072
2000-29942
2001-30702
2002-30822
2003-31817
2004-34027
2005-35322
2006-36702
2007-37042
2008-
Figure 25. Change in the extent of Bridge Glacier from 1995 to 2005.
Note the westward recession of the main tongue of the glacier.
Source: Stahl et al., 2008 Footnote 75 This material is reproduced with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Change in the extent of Bridge Glacier

Long Description for Figure 25

This figure contains two maps: in 2005, non-forest has grown as the main tongue of the glacier receded compared to 1995.

 

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Content Footnote

Footnote 1

Ahern, F., Frisk, J., Latifovic, R. and Pouliot, D. 2011. Monitoring ecosystems remotely: a selection of trends measured from satellite observations of Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010,Technical Thematic Report No. 17.Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON.

Return to Footnote12référence

Footnote 2

Hectares BC.2009. Hectares BC. [online]. Government of British Columbia. (accessed October, 2008).

Return to Footnote13référence

Footnote 3

Austin, M.A., Buffett, D.A., Nicolson, D.J., Scudder, G.G.E. and Stevens, V. (eds.). 2008. Taking nature's pulse: the status of biodiversity in British Columbia. Biodiversity BC. Victoria, BC. 268 p.

Return to Footnote14référence

Footnote 4

Lee, P., Gysbers, J.D. and Stanojevic, Z. 2006. Canada's forest landscape fragments: a first approximation (a Global Forest Watch Canada report). Observatoire Mondial des Forêts. Edmonton, AB. 97 p.

Return to Footnote15référence

Footnote 5

Austin, M. 2008. BC Ministry of Environment. Unpublished data.

Return to Footnote16référence

Footnote 6

BC Ministry of Forests and Range. 2010. Kamloops forest district news highlights, andOkanagan Shuswap forest district quick facts [online].British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range.(accessed 1 January, 2010).

Return to Footnote17référence

Footnote 7

BC Ministry of Forests and Range. 2008. Tree species composition and diversity in British Columbia. Forest and Range Evaluation Program Report # 14. British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range. Victoria, BC. x + 66 p.

Return to Footnote18référence

Footnote 8

BC Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands. 2010.The state of British Columbia's forests: third edition.Forest Practices and Investment Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands. Victoria, BC. xiii + 308 p.

Return to Footnote19référence

Footnote 9

Lea, T. 2008. Historical (pre-settlement) ecosystems of the Okanagan Valley and Lower Similkameen Valley of British Columbia: pre-European contact to the present. Davidsonia 19:3-36.

Return to Footnote20référence

Footnote 10

Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Washington State Agricultural Experiment Station. Pullman, WA. 131 p.

Return to Footnote21référence

Footnote 11

Demarchi, R.A. 2000. Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in accounts and measures for managing identified wildlife: accounts version 2004. British Columbia Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. Victoria, BC. 19 p.

Return to Footnote22référence

Footnote 12

Hooper, T.D. and Pitt, M.D. 1996. Breeding bird communities and habitat associations in the grasslands of the Chilcotin Region, British Columbia. Forest Resource Development Agreement (FRDA) II. Victoria, BC. 69 p.

Return to Footnote23référence

Footnote 13

Wikeem, B. and Newman, R. 1984. Rangeland extensions of grassland species in southern interior BC. Canadian Journal of Botany 63:2240-2242.

Return to Footnote24référence

Footnote 14

Iverson, K. 2004. Ecosystems in British Columbia at risk: grasslands of the southern interior. BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management and the BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. 6 p.

Return to Footnote25référence

Footnote 15

Wikeem, B. and Wikeem, S. 2004. The grasslands of British Columbia. BC Grasslands Conservation Council. Kamloops, BC. 497 p.

Return to Footnote26référence

Footnote 16

Blackstock, M.D. and McAllister, R. 2004. First Nations perspectives on the grasslands of the interior of British Columbia. Journal of Ecological Anthropology 8:24-46.

Return to Footnote27référence

Footnote 17

Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia. 2007.Understanding grasslands [online].(accessed 12 November, 2009).

Return to Footnote28référence

Footnote 18

BC Ministry of Environment. 2007. Environmental trends in British Columbia: 2007. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Victoria, BC. 352 p.

Return to Footnote29référence

Footnote 19

Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia. 2004. BC grasslands mapping project: a conservation risk assessment final report. Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia. Kamloops, BC. 108 p.

Return to Footnote30référence

Footnote 20

Lea, T. 2007. Historical (pre-European settlement) ecosystems of the Okanagan and Lower Similkameen valleys. South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program AGM. Penticton, BC. 27 November, 2007. Meeting Presentation.

Return to Footnote31référence

Footnote 21

Gauthier, D. and Riemer, G. 2003. Introduction to Prairie Conservation. In Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan 2003-2008. Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina. Regina, SK. pp. 1-8.

Return to Footnote32référence

Footnote 22

Scott, J.M., Davis, F.W., McGhie, R.G., Wright, R.G., Groves, C. and Estes, J. 2001. Nature reserves: do they capture the full range of America's biological diversity? Ecological Applications 11:999-1007.

Return to Footnote33référence

Footnote 23

Bai, Y., Thompson, D. and Broersma, K. 2004. Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine seed dormancy as regulated by grassland seedbed conditions. Journal of Range Management 57:661-667.

Return to Footnote34référence

Footnote 24

Turner, J. and Krannitz, P. 2000. Tree encroachment in the South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen valleys of British Columbia. In Proceedings from science to management and back: a science forum for southern interior ecosystems of British Columbia. Edited by Hollstedt, C., Sutherland, K. and Innes, T. Southern Interior Forest Extension and Research Partnership. Kamloops, BC. pp. 81-83.

Return to Footnote35référence

Footnote 25

Strang, R.M. and Parminter, J.V. 1980. Conifer encroachment on the Chilcotin grasslands of British Columbia. Forestry Chronicle 56:13-18.

Return to Footnote36référence

Footnote 26

Krannitz, P. 2007. Abundance and diversity of shrub-steppe birds in relation to encroachment of ponderosa pine. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 119:655-664.

Return to Footnote37référence

Footnote 27

Gayton, D.V. 2004. Native and non-native plant species in grazed grasslands of British Columbia's southern interior. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management 5:51-59.

Return to Footnote38référence

Footnote 28

BC Ministry of Forests Research Program. 2000. The ecology of wetland ecosystems. Extension Note No. 45. British Columbia Ministry of Forests. Smithers, BC.

Return to Footnote39référence

Footnote 29

National Wetlands Working Group. 1988. Wetlands of Canada. Ecological Land Classification Series No. 24. Sustainable Development Branch, Environment Canada and Polyscience Publications Inc. Ottawa, ON and Montréal, QC. 452 p.

Return to Footnote40référence

Footnote 30

Brinson, M.M. 2008. Temperate freshwater wetlands: response to gradients in moisture regime, human alterations and economic status. In Aquatic ecosystems: trends and global prospects. Edited by Polunin, N.V.C. Cambridge University Press. New York, NY. pp. 127-140.

Return to Footnote41référence

Footnote 31

BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management and BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. 2004. Ecosystems in British Columbia at risk: wetlands of the southern interior valleys. Government of British Columbia. Victoria, BC. 6 p.

Return to Footnote42référence

Footnote 32

BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. Habitat atlas for wildlife at risk: South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen. [en ligne]. British Columbia Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/okanagan/esd/atlas/index.html (accessed Nov. 10 2009).

Return to Footnote43référence

Footnote 33

Sarell, M. 1990. Survey of relatively natural wetlands in the South Okanagan. Habitat Conservation Trust Fund. Victoria, BC. 7 p.

Return to Footnote44référence

Footnote 34

Holt, R.F., Utzig, G., Carver, M. and Booth, J. 2003. Biodiversity conservation in BC: an assessment of threats and gaps. Veridian Ecological Consulting. Nelson, BC. 91 p.

Return to Footnote45référence

Footnote 35

Rae, R. and Andrusak, H. 2006. Ten-year summary of the Okanagan Lake action plan 1996-2005. BC Ministry of Environment. Penticton, BC. 41 p.

Return to Footnote46référence

Footnote 36

BC River Forecast Centre. 2011. Unpublished analysis of data obtained from theWater Survey of Canada: Normal analysis and net inflow calulations for Okanagan Lake 1921-2011 [online].Water Survey of Canada. (accessed 2 February, 2012).

Return to Footnote47référence

Footnote 37

Environment Canada. 2009.Archived hydrometric data [online].Environment Canada. (accessed 3 March, 2013).

Return to Footnote48référence

Footnote 38

Jensen, E.V. and Epp, P.F. 2002. Water quality trends in Okanagan, Skaha and Osoyoos lakes in response to nutrient reductions and hydrologic variation. BC Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection. Penticton, BC. 17 p.

Return to Footnote49référence

Footnote 39

Austin, M.A. and Eriksson, A. 2009. The biodiversity atlas of British Columbia. Biodiversity BC. 135 p.

Return to Footnote50référence

Footnote 40

British Columbia Bryophyte Recovery Team. 2009. Recovery strategy for alkaline wing-nerved moss (Pterygoneurum kozlovii) in British Columbia. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Victoria, BC. 17 p.

Return to Footnote51référence

Footnote 41

Dobson, D. 2004. Hydrology and watershed management. In Okanagan Geology, British Columbia. Edition 2. Edited by Roed, M.A. and Greenough, J.D. Kelowna Geology Committee. Kelowna, BC. Chapter 13.

Return to Footnote52référence

Footnote 42

BC Ministry of Environment. 2009.Environmental protection division, water quality [online].British Columbia Ministry of Environment.

Return to Footnote53référence

Footnote 43

Water Quality Task Group. 2006. A Canada-wide framework for water quality monitoring. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. Victoria, BC. iii + 25 p.

Return to Footnote54référence

Footnote 44

BC Ministry of Environment. 2007.State of environment reporting, water quality index for surface water bodies in BC [online].British Columbia Ministry of Environment. (accessed 25 March, 2012).

Return to Footnote55référence

Footnote 45

Jensen, E.V. 2006. Cumulative effects monitoring of Okanagan streams using benthic invertebrates, 1999 to 2004. Ministry of Environment. Penticton, BC. 60 p.

Return to Footnote56référence

Footnote 46

Merritt, W.S., Alila, Y., Barton, M., Taylor, B., Cohen, S. and Neilsen, D. 2006. Hydrologic response to scenarios of climate change in sub watersheds of the Okanagan Basin, British Columbia. Journal of Hydrology 326:79-108.

Return to Footnote57référence

Footnote 47

Hall, K., Stockner, J., Schreier, H. and Bestbier, R. 2001. Nutrient sources and ecological impacts on Okanagan Lake. Institute for Resources and Environment, University of British Columbia. Vancouver, BC.

Return to Footnote58référence

Footnote 48

Alex, K. 2010. Providing fish passage at McIntyre Dam. Bilateral Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group Meeting. 24 February, 2010. Penticton, BC. Meeting presentation.

Return to Footnote59référence

Footnote 49

Gayton, D.V. 2007. Major impacts to biodiversity in British Columbia (excluding climate change): a report to the conservation planning tools committee. Technical Subcommittee Component Report. Biodiversity BC. i + 28 p.

Return to Footnote60référence

Footnote 50

Summit Environmental Consultants Inc. 2010. Okanagan water supply and demand project: phase 2 summary report. Okanagan Basin Water Board. Vernon, BC. xv + 82 p.

Return to Footnote61référence

Footnote 51

Shepherd, P., Neale, T. and Cohen, S. 2004. Water Management. In Expanding the dialogue on climate change and water management in the Okanagan Basin, British Columbia. Edited by Cohen, S., Neilsen, D. and Welbourn, R. Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the University of British Columbia. Chapter 3. pp. 11-24.

Return to Footnote62référence

Footnote 52

Statistics Canada. 2003. Human activity and the environment: annual statistics 2003. Human Activity and the Environment, Catalogue No. 16-201-XIE. Statistics Canada. Ottawa, ON. vi + 87 p.

Return to Footnote63référence

Footnote 53

Neale, T.L. 2005. Impacts of climate change and population growth on residential water demand in the Okanagan Basin, British Columbia. Thesis (M.A.). Royal Roads University, Environment and Management Program. Victoria, BC.

Return to Footnote64référence

Footnote 54

Nelitz, M., Wieckowski, K., Pickard, D., Pawley, K. and Marmorek, D. 2007. Helping Pacific salmon survive the impacts of climate change on freshwater habitats: pursuing proactive and reactive adaptation strategies. Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. Vancouver, BC. iii +122 p.

Return to Footnote65référence

Footnote 55

Symonds, B.J. 2000. Background and history of water management of Okanagan Lake and River. BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. Penticton, BC. 8 p.

Return to Footnote66référence

Footnote 56

Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group. 2009. Regional description - Okanagan Basin [online]. (accessed 17 December, 2009).

Return to Footnote67référence

Footnote 57

Glenfir Resources. 2002. A discussion paper concerning restoration of the Okanagan River and its riparian habitats. South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program. Penticton BC.

Return to Footnote68référence

Footnote 58

Canadian Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group. 2010. Major initiatives, Okanagan River Restoration Initiative (ORRI) [online]. Canadian Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group. (accessed 19 March, 2012).

Return to Footnote69référence

Footnote 59

Cannings, S.G. 2003. Status of western river cruiserMacromia magnificaMcLachlan in British Columbia. Wildlife Bulletin No. B-111. BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Managment.

Return to Footnote70référence

Footnote 60

Moore, R.D. and Demuth, M.N. 2001. Mass balance and streamflow variability at Place Glacier, Canada, in relation to recent climate fluctuations. Hydrological Processes 15:3473-3486.

Return to Footnote71référence

Footnote 61

Petts, G.E., Gurnell, A.M. and Milner, A.M. 2006. Eco-hydrology: new opportunities for research on glacier fed rivers. In Peyto Glacier: one century of science. Science Report #8. Edited by Demuth, M.N., Munro, D.S. and Young, G.J. Institut national de recherche sur les eaux. pp. 255-278.

Return to Footnote72référence

Footnote 62

Milner, A.M., Brown, L.E. and Hannah, D.M. 2009. Hydroecological response of river systems to shrinking glaciers. Hydrological Processes 23:62-77.

Return to Footnote73référence

Footnote 63

World Glacier Monitoring Service. 2008. Global glacier changes: facts and figures. World Glacier Monitoring Service and United Nations Environment Programme. Zurich, Switzerland. 88 p.

Return to Footnote74référence

Footnote 64

Demuth, M.N., Sekerka, J., Bertollo, S. and Shea, J. 2009. Glacier mass balance observations for Place Glacier, British Columbia, Canada (updated to 2007). Spatially referenced data set contribution to the National Glacier-Climate Observing System, state and evolution of Canada's glaciers [online]. Geological Survey of Canada. (accessed 3 March, 2011).

Return to Footnote75référence

Footnote 65

Stahl, K., Moore, R.D., Shea, J.M., Hutchinson, D. and Cannon, A.J. 2008. Coupled modelling of glacier and streamflow response to future climate scenarios. Water resources research 44:13.

Return to Footnote76référence

Return to Table of Contents

Theme: Human/Ecosystem Interactions

Key finding 8
Protected areas

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

National key finding
Both the extent and representativeness of the protected areas network have increased in recent years. In many places, the area protected is well above the United Nations 10% target. It is below the target in highly developed areas and the oceans.

Before 1940, four small protected areas totalling 5 km2 were established in the WIBE by federal and provincial jurisdictions. Footnote 76 By 2009, 5,106 km2 (9% of the WIBE) was in 111 protected areas in IUCN categories I–IV. (Figure 26, Figure 27). Footnote 76 These categories include nature reserves, wilderness areas, and other parks and reserves managed for conservation of ecosystems and natural and cultural features, as well as those managed mainly for habitat and wildlife conservation. Footnote 77 In addition, 43 protected areas (0.07% of the WIBE) were in category VI for sustainable use by established cultural tradition. Footnote 77

In 2003, Canada and BC signed a Memorandum of Understanding to assess the feasibility of establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan–Lower Similkameen. The proposed park would represent the Interior Dry Plateau natural region, which is one of Parks Canada's 39 distinct natural regions and a natural region not yet represented in the national park system. In early 2012, however, the BC government withdrew from the feasibility assessment due to concerns that there was insufficient local support. Consequently, Parks Canada is not conducting any further work on the proposal at this time. Footnote 78

Figure 26. Area protected in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ from 1940 to 2009.
Data provided by federal and provincial jurisdictions, updated to May 2009.
Source: Environment Canada, 2009 Footnote 79using Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS),
v.2009.05, 2009; Footnote 76 data provided by federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions

Area protected in the Western Interior

Long Description for Figure 26

This bar graph presents the growth of protected areas in the ecozone+.

Data for Figure 26 - Part 1
Year
protection
established
Cumulative area
protected (km2)
IUCN Categories
I-IV
1941732
1943747
1956749
1963853
19681197
19711212
19721224
19731465
19751500
19771501
19781510
19791518
19801519
19811527
19841528
19871711
19881725
19901729
19931770
19941778
19953144
19963780
19983855
19993868
20015020
20085106
Data for Figure 26 - Part 2
Year
protection
established
Cumulative area
protected (km2)
IUCN Categories
VI
19411
19431
19532
19553
195615
196122
196325
196527
197130
197533
198034
198135
198736
198837
199138
199639
199740
200443

E.C. Manning Park was established in 1941, Birkenhead Lake Park in 1963, Cathedral Park in 1968, several parks including Okanagan Mountain Park and Skagit Valley Park in 1973, Cascade Recreation Area in 1987, Eagle Hills Park, Marble Range Park, and Stein Valley Nlak'a'pamux Heritage Park in 1995, several parks including Bonaparte Park, Dunn Peak Park and Lac du Bois Grasslands Park in 1996, and several parks including Graystokes Park, Snowy Protected Area, and Spruce Lake Protected Area in 2001.

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Figure 27. The distribution of protected areas in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2009.
Not shown are four new provincial parks and one park expansion established in 2008.
Source: Environment Canada, 2009 Footnote 79 using Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS),
v.2009.05, 2009; Footnote 76 data provided by federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions

distribution of protected areas

Long Description for Figure 27

This is a map shows protected areas. Large areas are located in the west with a few scattered in the centre of the ecozone+.

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Key finding 9
Stewardship

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

National key finding
Stewardship activity in Canada is increasing, both in number and types of initiatives and in participation rates. The overall effectiveness of these activities in conserving and improving biodiversity and ecosystem health has not been fully assessed.

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The WIBE, particularly in the South Okanagan, has benefited from the conservation and restoration activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), federal and provincial government agencies, city councils, First Nations, stewardship groups, and thousands of individuals.

Several local and regional stewardship organizations in the south and southwest of the WIBE work under the umbrella of the South Okanagan–Similkameen Conservation Program and in the north and central Okanagan under the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program. Although the Thompson region lacks a similar coordinating body, stewardship groups are also active in this region. Many other local, provincial, and national initiatives and organizations also operate throughout the WIBE.

Stewardship can play a key role in augmenting government-protected habitats of conservation concern. In 2005, 156 km2 of shrub-steppe and wetland/riparian habitats occurred on private land in the South Okanagan. Footnote 80 Of this, 7.5 km2(4.8%) had been acquired by The Nature Trust of BC, Ducks Unlimited Canada, The Land Conservancy of BC, or Nature Conservancy of Canada. An additional 12.6 km2(8.1%) were under covenant, in signed voluntary stewardship agreements, or were being actively stewarded by landowners without a signed agreement. Although there is no synthesis of stewardship activities and participation rates in the WIBE or across BC, information about stewardship projects can be obtained from the annual reports of many of the stewardship groups, as well as funders such as Environment Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program and the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

Ecosystem conversion

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

Ecosystem conversion was initially identified as a nationally recurring key finding and information was subsequently compiled and assessed for the WIBE. In the final version of the national report, Footnote 3 information related to ecosystem conversion was incorporated into other key findings. This information is maintained as a separate key finding for the WIBE.

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Habitat loss

Ecosystem conversion resulting in habitat loss is the primary threat to biodiversity in the WIBE. Footnote 81 Footnote 82 Footnote 83Ecosystem conversion is the direct and complete conversion of natural landscapes such as forests, wetlands, or grasslands to landscapes of human uses (e.g., buildings, houses, parking lots, mines, reservoirs, and agricultural fields). Footnote 49Although no significant change in the extent of the WIBE's major biomes between 1985 and 2005 was detected using remote sensing Footnote 12, conversion was detected using larger-scale maps. Footnote 49Lower elevations had the highest rates (>22%) of terrestrial ecosystem conversion based on Baseline Thematic Mapping and Terrain Resource Information Management - Enhanced Base Maps from 1991–2001 (Figure 28).

Rates of ecosystem conversion in the WIBE were even greater historically. In the Okanagan and Lower Similkameen valleys, 12 ecosystems lost at least 33% of their area between 1800 and 2003, and 7 lost more than 60% (Figure 29). Footnote 20Most high-value riparian and wetland ecosystems and a substantial portion of low elevation grassland/shrubland ecosystems have been converted to other uses. Footnote 84

Figure 28: Percent of ecosystem conversion in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+.
Source: adapted from Austin and Eriksson, 2009 Footnote 49Original map by Caslys Consulting Ltd., produced for Biodiversity BC based on imagery taken between 1991 and 2001; ecosystem conversion that occurred after the images were taken is not included.

map

Long Description for Figure 28

This map shows 10 categories of terrestrial ecosystem conversion:

Terrestrial ecosystem conversion (%)
0.00
0.01 - 0.13
0.14 - 0.67
0.68 - 1.66
1.67 - 3.49
3.50 - 6.99
7.00 - 12.12
12.13 - 21.95
21.96 - 43.00
43.01 - 100.00

Lower elevations had the highest rates (>22%) of terrestrial ecosystem conversion between 1991 and 2001. Areas along major rivers and around cities such as Kamloops and Kelowna had the highest levels of conversion.

More information about habitat loss can be found in the Theme: Biomes (the Key finding 1 - Forests section, the Key finding 2 - Grasslands section, the Key finding 3 - Wetlands section, and the Key finding 4 - Lakes and rivers section).

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Figure 29: Extent of the major ecosystems in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys in 1800, 1938, and 2003.

graph

Long Description for Figure 29

This bar graph illustrates the following information:

Data for figure 29
YearBSNote1 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)DPNote2 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)CTNote3 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)PWNote4 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)CDNote5 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)GSNote6 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)ANNote7 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)SNNote8 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)FWNote9 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)LWNote10 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)BDNote11 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)ORNote12 of Figure Table 29 - Area (km2)
1800125231.774.3215376418.8198.9543.661951781522
1938104178.823.7812151.67266.5173.2532.2989.2468.944.972
200382.66154.282.647832.16164.6131.7813.3550.1729.6512.080.15
Per-cent Lost335058929340757033686184

Source: data from Lea, 2008 Footnote 20

Notes of Table Figure 29

Note 1 of Table Figure 29

Overall big sage shrub-steppe.

Return to note 1 referrer of table figure 29

Note 2 of Table Figure 29

Douglas fir – pine grass; PW: Ponderosa pine – blue bunch wheatgrass.

Return to note 2 referrer of table figure 29

Note 3 of Table Figure 29

Cattail marsh.

Return to note 3 referrer of table figure 29

Note 4 of Table Figure 29

Ponderosa pine – blue bunch wheatgrass.

Return to note 4 referrer of table figure 29

Note 5 of Table Figure 29

Black cottonwood - Red osier dogwood floodplain.

Return to note 5 referrer of table figure 29

Note 6 of Table Figure 29

Overall gentle slope grassland and Shrub-steppe.

Return to note 6 referrer of table figure 29

Note 7 of Table Figure 29

Antelope brush - needle and thread grass shrub-steppe.

Return to note 7 referrer of table figure 29

Note 8 of Table Figure 29

Big sage - needle and thread shrub-steppe.

Return to note 8 referrer of table figure 29

Note 9 of Table Figure 29

Idaho fescue – blue bunch wheatgrass grass steppe.

Return to note 9 referrer of table figure 29

Note 10 of Table Figure 29

Low elevation wetlands (marsh, shrub swamp, meadow, shallow open water).

Return to note 10 referrer of table figure 29

Note 11 of Table Figure 29

Water birch - Red osier dogwood riparian wetland swamp.

Return to note 11 referrer of table figure 29

Note 12 of Table Figure 29

Okanagan River.

Return to note 12 referrer of table figure 29

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Habitat fragmentation

Much of the low-lying, highly productive areas have been logged and/or converted to high human density areas or agriculture, or flooded by hydroelectric dams. Therefore, remaining low-elevation forests are often highly fragmented by roads and forest harvesting. Footnote 14 In addition to the actual loss and fragmentation of habitat, land conversion for agriculture and suburban development creates a "halo zone" around the developed areas where roads, soil disturbance, domestic animals, and invasive species threaten native species and natural processes.

The density of roads can be used as an indicator of habitat fragmentation. Major roads and highways may restrict the movement of less mobile terrestrial species; for example, roads in the major valleys interrupt connectivity of grassland habitats and increase mortality for animals such as reptiles and amphibians. Footnote 85 In 2005, the WIBE had a road density of 1.7 km of road/km2, the second highest among 10 regions of BC. Footnote 14Road densities in the WIBE are increasing, particularly in the eastern regions of the ecozone+ (Figure 30).

Figure 30: Road density and distribution in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ in 1995 and 2008.
The road density categories shown represent areas that are (1-blue) undeveloped, without roads, (2-green) minimally affected by few roads, (3-yellow) moderately developed, (4-orange) rural areas, and (5-red) urban areas.
Source: adapted with permission from BC Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands, 2010. Footnote 19

map

Long Description for Figure 30

This figure includes two maps with five road density categories in km of road/km2 that include undeveloped, without roads (<0.1), minimally affected by few roads (0.1 to <0.6), moderately developed (0.6 to <2.0), rural areas (2.0 to <3.5), and urban areas (>3.5). Road density increases from 1995 to 2008, particularly throughout the Okanagan in the eastern part of the ecozone+.

Urban, suburban, and agricultural development pressures will continue to fragment the WIBE's low elevation ecosystems. Ecosystem and habitat fragmentation is of particular concern in the southern Okanagan, which is the northern extension of the Great Basin desert of the United States. If well-managed, the southern Okanagan can provide a corridor for the north–south movement of species as the climate changes. Footnote 86 The two main river systems, the Okanagan and the Fraser, also provide corridors for migration and dispersal of riparian and aquatic species. In addition to allowing movement of native species, however, these corridors may facilitate the invasion of non-native species. Footnote 87

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Urban areas

In 2010, Footnote 88 the four largest urban settlements in the WIBE were Kelowna (121,000), Kamloops (87,000), Vernon (39,000), and Penticton (33,000). This is one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, and population growth is expected to continue (Table 4).

Table 4. Projected population growth in four regional districts in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+. Footnote 89
Regional district20082035 (projected)Percent growth
Thompson-Nicola Table Footnote a130,132163,68120.5%
Okanagan-Similkameen82,43692,16010.5%
Central Okanagan180,114263,89231.7%
North Okanagan81,932103,00520.5%

Table Footnote

Footnote 1

Thompson-Nicola Regional District is partially in the WIBE and partially in the Montane Cordillera Ecozone+.
Source: BC Statistics and Statistics Canada, 2007

Return to Footnote a referrer

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Ecosystems in these cities have been dramatically altered. Overall loss was highest in Kelowna (Figure 31) and 100% of water birch–red-osier dogwood ecosystems were lost in Vernon. Footnote 20

Figure 31: Extent and loss of ecosystems in the City of Kelowna in 1800, 1938, and 2001.Source: Lea, 2008Footnote 20

graph

Long Description for Figure 31

This bar graph illustrates the following information:

Data for figure 31
YearPW - Area (km2)Note 1 of Figure Table 31OW - Area (km2)Note 2 of Figure Table 31CD - Area (km2)Note 3 of Figure Table 31FW - Area (km2)Note 4 of Figure Table 31BD - Area (km2)Note 5 of Figure Table 31
1800451.71133731
1938311.555.588.584.98
2001120.321.882.461.17
Percent lost8174939686

Notes of Table Figure 31

Note 1 of Table Figure 31

Ponderosa pine – blue-bunch wheat-grass gentleslope.

Return to note 1 referrer of table figure 31

Note 2 of Table Figure 31

Shallow Open Water.

Return to note 2 referrer of table figure 31

Note 3 of Table Figure 31

Black Cottonwood – red-osier dogwood.

Return to note 3 referrer of table figure 31

Note 4 of Table Figure 31

Idaho fescue – bluebunch wheatgrass.

Return to note 4 referrer of table figure 29

Note 5 of Table Figure 31

Water Birch – red-osier dogwoodwetland shrub swamp.

Return to note 5 referrer of table figure 31

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Key finding 10
Invasive non-native species

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

National key finding
Invasive non-native species are a significant stressor on ecosystem functions, processes, and structure in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. This impact is increasing as numbers of invasive non-native species continue to rise and their distributions continue to expand.

Species that inhabit areas outside their natural range are known as alien or non-native species. Most non-native species do not become established, are not detrimental, and can even be beneficial. Footnote 90 Invasive non-native species, however, cause considerable harm to our environment, the economy, or to society. Footnote 91 The ecological impacts of invasive non-native species are diverse. Non-native animals may outcompete, consume, or transmit diseases to native animals. Non-native plants can decrease the abundance of native plants, increase ecosystem productivity, change fire regimes, and alter the rate of nutrient cycling. Footnote 92 Economic impacts of invasive non-native species include lowered real estate values, reduced quality of fish habitat, clogged irrigation pipes, decreased quality of forage by wildlife and livestock, and reduced recreational opportunities. Footnote 93 The costs can be substantial. For example, six invasive plant species in BC had a combined economic impact of $65 million in 2008 and this was projected to increase to $139 million by 2020. Footnote 93 Invasive non-native species can also be harmful to human health and to domestic animals, such as hound's tongue (Cynoglossum officinale) which can cause liver damage to livestock.

Biocontrol programs use select non-native species to control other non-native species. By 1994, 103 non-native insects, 5 protozoans, 1 fungus, and 2 viruses were introduced to BC to control insect pests, as well as 59 species of insects, fungi, and nematodes to control weeds. Footnote 94 Other species have been introduced in biocontrol programs since then. Footnote 95 Footnote 96 A lengthy research process that includes quarantines and controlled trials precedes the introduction of biocontrol agents. Footnote 97

The WIBE has a substantial number of non-native terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals (Figure 32). The three biogeoclimatic zones identified as of conservation concern each have more than 100 non-native species associated with them (Table 5).

Table 5. The proportion of each biogeoclimatic zone in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+and the number of terrestrial non-native plant and animal species associated with each zone. Footnote 14 Footnote 49 Footnote 98
Biogeoclimatic zoneProportion of
each zone in WIBE
Terrestrial non-native species throughout
BC associated with each zone
Interior Douglas-fir Table Footnote b41%335
Montane Spruce22%182
Engelmann Spruce--Subalpine Fir21%232
Ponderosa Pine Table Footnote b5%187
Interior Mountain-heather Alpine4%44
Bunchgrass Table Footnote b3%148
Interior Cedar–Hemlock3%265
Coastal Western Hemlock1%579

Table Footnote

Footnote 2

Zones identified as being of conservation concern
Source: adapted from Austin and Eriksson, 2009 and BC Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands, 2010

Return to Footnote b referrer

Figure 32: Number of terrestrial and freshwater non-native species in Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2008.
Source: adapted from Austin and Eriksson, 2009 Footnote 49Original map by Caslys Consulting Ltd., produced for Biodiversity BC.

map

Long Description for Figure 32

This map shows that non-native species are concentrated along major rivers and near cities such as Kamloops and Kelowna which can have a high of 12-92 non-native species.

Invasive terrestrial plants

In 2009, the provincial Invasive Alien Plant Program (IAPP) listed 83 invasive plants in the WIBE, Footnote 99 a conservative estimate because invasive plant inventories have not been conducted throughout the ecozone+. Footnote 100

Many of these invasive plants became established in the WIBE 50–100 years ago (Table 6). Footnote 101 Species such as Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), smooth brome (Bromus inermis), cheatgrass (B. tectorum), yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius), diffuse and spotted knapweed (Centaurea spp.), sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), and others are widespread throughout WIBE grasslands. Footnote 38 Footnote 102 Footnote 103 Footnote 104 Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), and common reed (Phragmites australis ssp. australis) have invaded wetlands and marshes. Footnote 105 Footnote 106

Biological, chemical and mechanical control are used to manage invasive terrestrial plants. For example, knapweed seedhead weevils (Larinus obtusus) introduced as biocontrol agents in the early 1990s decreased the number of knapweed flower stems per area in the southern Okanagan. Footnote 96 In the Thompson–Nicola region, the Southern Interior Weed Management Committee encourages chemical control of invasive species by sharing the treatment costs. Footnote 107Organizations throughout the region organize stewardship activities that include the mechanical removal of invasive species and the regional districts of the Okanagan–Similkameen, North Okanagan, and Central Okanagan have by-laws supporting the management of invasive species.

Table 6. Date of first records of selected non-native plant arrivals in BC and in the Okanagan. Footnote 20 Footnote 31
Scientific nameCommon nameEarliest record in BCEarliest record in the Okanagan
Arctium lappaGreat burdock18951933
Arctium minusCommon burdock19091917
Bromus tectorumCheatgrass18901912
Centaurea diffusaDiffuse knapweed19361939
Centaurea maculosaSpotted knapweed18931944
Cirsium arvenseCanada thistle18941913
Cuscuta pentagonaDodder1911Late 1970s
Cynoglossum officinaleHound's tongue19221922
Echium vulgareBlueweed19171918
Hypericum perforatumSt. John's wort19131950
Linaria genistifolia var.
dalmatica
Dalmatian toadflax19401952
Lythrum salicariaPurple loosestrife18971963
Potentilla rectaSulphur cinquefoil19141940
Senecio jacobaeaTansy ragwort19131991
Tribulus terrestrisPuncturevine19741974

Source: Lea, 2007 Footnote 20 Footnote 31

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Invasive terrestrial animals

Many invasive terrestrial animals were intentionally introduced. Ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), grey (Hungarian) partridges (Perdix perdix), California quail (Callipepla californica), wild turkeys (Melagris gallopavo), and chuckar partridges (Alectoris chukar) were introduced for hunting and have established stable populations in the WIBE. Footnote 108 Eastern grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), feral horses (Equus caballus), and feral cats (Felis domesticus) have also invaded the sensitive ecosystems of the WIBE. Footnote 109

Invasive aquatic species

Sixteen species of non-native fish have been introduced to the rivers and lakes of the WIBE. Footnote 110 The introductions began in 1929 with the greatest number of introductions occurring in the 1940s (Figure 34). Some non-native fish were introduced to BC for angling and others were stocked in Washington State and later invaded BC waters. Osoyoos Lake has the largest number of non-native fish species (10 species confirmed and 3 possibly present) of the Okanagan valley floor lakes. Footnote 111Other lakes in the WIBE, such as Shuswap Lake, have introduced yellow perch (Perca flavescens). Footnote 112

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC regularly stocks some lakes with strains of rainbow trout that are not native to the particular lake. Footnote 113 Their effect on native fish has not been well studied in the WIBE, but rainbow trout stocking in previously fishless lakes caused amphibians [long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum), Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris), and Pacific treefrog (Hyla regilla)] to decline by 64% in the Thompson–Nicola region. Footnote 114

Mysis shrimp (also known as mysids) are small, freshwater shrimp that were introduced to Okanagan Lake in 1966 to provide a food source for rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and kokanee. Footnote 45Kokanee declined, however, due to the loss of kokanee spawning habitat, nutrient imbalances in the lake that led to a decline in lake productivity, overfishing, and competition between mysids and kokanee for preferred cladoceran zooplankton (e.g., Daphnia). Footnote 115 Footnote 116 Footnote 117Mysids have a daily migration pattern through the water column that limits the amount of time they are available for consumption by kokanee. Footnote 45Mysids live near the bottom of the lake during the day (100–120 m), move upward after dark to feed on zooplankton near the surface (20 m), and then migrate back down before dawn. Whether the consumption of daphnia by mysids is substantial enough to explain the long-term decline in kokanee salmon stocks in Okanagan Lake, however, remains unresolved. Footnote 118 Mysids also moved downstream to Skaha and Osoyoos lakes. In shallower lakes, like Skaha Lake, kokanee have more opportunities to eat mysids. Footnote 45

Mysid biomass estimates in Okanagan Lake have ranged from 2,700 to 5,700 tonnes. Footnote 119 A fishery was opened in 1999 to provide mysids for the aquarium and aquaculture industries. Footnote 45The efficiency of capturing mysids improved from 2000 to 2004 and harvest levels peaked at 78 tonnes in 2001 (Figure 33). To impact the population, however, harvest needs to exceed 1,000 tonnes and so new markets for mysids are needed before the WIBE shrimp fishery can expand. Footnote 117

Figure 33. The total mysid catch (metric tonnes of wet weight) from the shrimp fishery in Okanagan Lake from 1999 to 2005.
Source: Rae and Andrusak, 2006 Footnote 45and Andrusak and White, 2008 Footnote 119

map

Long Description for Figure 33

This bar graph shows the following information:

Data for figure 33
YearTotal Mysid Catch
(metric tonnes of wet weight)
199912.5
200015.1
200177.9
200249.8
200345.7
200437.3
200531.8
200622
200729.4

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Since the early 1900s, 30 non-native aquatic plant species are known to have been introduced to the WIBE (Figure 34). Footnote 110 In the 1970s, one of the most problematic aquatic plants for the large Okanagan lakes was Eurasian water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum). Footnote 120 Some plants included in Figure 34 are terrestrial species that can affect aquatic environments. For example, saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima) has deep taproots that consume large amounts of water and leaves that excrete salt, which inhibit native riparian plants. Although saltcedar was not considered a problem in the WIBE in 2010, some BC nurseries sell it as an ornamental and it was identified at a site near Penticton. Footnote 121

Figure 34: The cumulative number of fish and aquatic plants introduced to the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ from the 1900's to 2000's.
Source: Herborg, 2011 Footnote 110

graph

Long Description for Figure 34

This bar graph shows the following information:

Data for figure 34
DecadeFishPlants
1900s01
1910s04
1920s15
1930s29
1940s911
1950s1011
1960s1114
1970s1223
1980s1225
1990s1328
2000s1430

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Invasive pathogens and disease

Similar to non-native plants and animals, non-native pathogens are species that have been moved from their native range and introduced to a new area. Non-native pathogens include bacteria, fungi, nematodes, other microscopic eukaryotes, and viruses, which can cause sickness or death in other species. This can alter the species composition of ecosystems. For example, white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) arrived in BC around 1910, reached the interior about 1930, and is responsible for the severe reduction of western white pine (Pinus monticola) in the WIBE. Efforts to eradicate the rust's intermediate hosts--currants and gooseberries - did not control the blister rust. Footnote 122

Key finding 11
Contaminants

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

National key finding
Concentrations of legacy contaminants in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems have generally declined over the past 10 to 40 years. Concentrations of many emerging contaminants are increasing in wildlife; mercury is increasing in some wildlife in some areas.

There were no ecozone+-level monitoring programs for contaminants in the WIBE, only localized research studies in birds [ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) and American robins (Turdus migratorius)] and fish. For example, in the Thompson region in the early 1990s, organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and mercury residues in the eggs and blood of ospreys were higher downstream than upstream of a pulp mill. Footnote 123 Also in the 1990s, American robins nesting in orchards had higher DDT residue levels to those outside of orchards, even 20 years after the banning of DDT. However, reproduction by orchard robins was unaffected. Footnote 124 Footnote 125 In contrast, concentrations of mercury and DDT declined in rainbow trout in Okanagan Lake in the 2000s (Figure 35). Footnote 126 Of four fish species sampled from 2000 to 2006, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) had DDT concentrations ranging from 1 to 16 parts per million (ppm), and rainbow trout, kokanee, and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) all had concentrations less than 1 ppm. Health Canada's human consumption guidelines are less than 0.5 ppm for both mercury and DDT. Footnote 126

Figure 35: Total mercury and DDT in individual Okanagan Lake rainbow trout from 1970 to 2005.
Source: Rae and Jensen, 2007 Footnote 126

graph

Long Description for Figure 35

These are two scatter plots. Total mercury in parts per million were highest, approximately 0.9 ppm, for confirmed wet weight measurements in 1971 and approximately 0.75 ppm of weight, measurement method unknown (wet or dry), in 1974. Confirmed wet weight measurements declined below the Health Canada consumption guideline of 0.5 in 1990 and were down to approximately 0.15 in 2005. DDT in parts per million were highest, approximately 11.5 ppm, for confirmed wet weight measurements in 1971 and approximately 15 ppm of weight, measurement method unknown (wet or dry), in 1970. Confirmed wet weight measurements declined below the Health Canada consumption guideline of 5 in 1988 and were down to approximately 1 in 2005.

Key finding 12
Nutrient loading and algal blooms

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

National key finding
Inputs of nutrients to both freshwater and marine systems, particularly in urban and agriculture-dominated landscapes, have led to algal blooms that may be a nuisance and/or may be harmful. Nutrient inputs have been increasing in some places and decreasing in others.

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Residual soil nitrogen on agricultural lands

The WIBE is classed as having low residual soil nitrogen (Figure 36), which is an indicator of "unused" nitrogen in the soil at the end of an agricultural crop season. Footnote 127 Nitrogen inputs to the soil generally decreased from 1981 to 2006, although they increased in 2001. The decline from 2001 to 2006 was due to fewer livestock and less nitrogen from manure, decreased use of nitrogen fertilizers, and decreased nitrogen fixation by legumes. Nitrogen outputs, which include crop removal, ammonia volatilization, and denitrification, also decreased over this period due to changing crop acreages and decreasing hay yields. The net result was that the WIBE was the only agricultural ecozone+ in Canada where residual soil nitrogen decreased(20.6 kg N ha-1 in 1981 to 16.5 kg N ha-1 in 2006), although some local areas were stable or increased within the WIBE (Figure 37). Footnote 127

Figure 36: Residual soil nitrogen classes in 2006.
Source: Drury et al., 2011 Footnote 127

map

Long Description for Figure 36

This map shows locations of residual soil nitrogen in kg N/ha. Very high risk (≥40) is located in the south, high risk (30.0-39.9) and moderate (20.0-29.9) in the northeast and north central, low risk (9.9-19.9) throughout the central and very low risk (0.0-9.9) in the centre of the ecozone+.

Figure 37: Change in residual soil nitrogen class for the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ and parts of adjacent ecozones+ between 1981 and 2006.
Source: Drury et al., 2011 Footnote 127

map

Long Description for Figure 37

This map shows that nitrogen inputs to the soil generally decreased from 1981 to 2006, although they increased in 2001. The WIBE was the only agricultural ecozone+ in Canada where residual soil nitrogen decreased (20.6 kg N/ha in 1981 to 16.5 kg N/ha in 2006). Central parts of the ecozonez+were stable or decreased. Increases were evident in the south central part of the ecozone+.

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Nutrient loading to lakes

Pollution due to nutrient loading caused algal blooms in some of the large Okanagan Valley lakes in the 1960s and 1970s. Footnote 128 Due to reductions in phosphorus inputs from agricultural sources, the total phosphorus load to Okanagan Lake has decreased by 30% and improved sewage treatment resulted in a 95% reduction of the point source phosphorus load between 1970 and 2001. Footnote 128The nutrient load was also reduced in Skaha Lake (Figure 38) and Osoyoos Lake (data not shown) with a concomitant decrease in chlorophyll a (a measure of the phytoplankton concentration) and increase in dissolved oxygen (which improves conditions for salmonids and other species). Footnote 48 More information about lakes and fish populations can be found in the Lakes and rivers section on page 28 and the Fish section on page 75.

There was deterioration near towns such as Salmon Arm by 2001. Footnote 129 In 2002, a new liquid waste management plan was ordered to improve sewage treatment. Annual nutrient loads are increasing in Mara Lake due to anthropogenic changes in the Shuswap River drainage basin. Forestry, agriculture, and urbanization have increased total phosphorus and nitrogen in the lake. Footnote 130 The federal and provincial governments announced a drinking water treatment plant for Sicamous and Mara lakes in 2013. Footnote 131

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Figure 38: Changes in nutrient loading in Skaha Lake, 1968-2009.
Left axis is total phosphorus (total P) and chlorophyll a (chlor a); right axis is dissolved oxygen (DO).
Source: updated from Jensen and Epp, 2002 Footnote 48

graph

Long Description for Figure 38

This three line graph of nutrient loading in Skaha Lake shows the following information:

Data for figure 38
YearTotal phosphorus
(ug/L)
Chlorophyll a
(ug/L)
Dissolved oxygen
(mg/L)
196822.000  
196931.700  
197045.000  
197118.000  
1972   
197312.000  
197418.000  
197512.000  
197611.000  
197711.000 4.10
197821.00016.100 
197930.750 4.00
198029.00019.7005.60
198123.50012.900 
198228.0008.5255.30
198324.00010.2006.80
198426.00011.3006.40
198517.4296.2714.50
198616.0009.300 
198723.5007.2502.60
198827.0005.1006.50
198920.50010.6007.60
199018.00017.6007.20
199113.00011.4008.40
199212.0007.7005.80
199312.0008.5006.76
19949.00015.7005.74
19953.0008.1007.30
19968.0007.8006.35
199710.0005.2008.40
19986.0005.4007.60
199910.0000.7508.24
20009.0003.2007.70
200112.0009.7006.20
20022.000  
200310.0004.8007.01
20046.0007.80010.16
20054.0004.0006.92
20069.0001.0007.85
20077.00012.2007.92
200810.0004.0507.75
20096.0003.0008.50

Key finding 13
Acid deposition

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

National key finding
Thresholds related to ecological impact of acid deposition, including acid rain, are exceeded in some areas, acidifying emissions are increasing in some areas, and biological recovery has not kept pace with emission reductions in other areas.

Acid deposition was an issue of interest in BC in the 1980s; precipitation chemistry and data on acid levels were collected for several years at monitoring stations in Kamloops and Kelowna. The soils and lakes in the WIBE are considered at low risk from small changes in rain pH. Footnote 132 Coastal BC lakes were monitored from 1984 to 1994 and acidity did not change, Footnote 133 so it is probable that lakes in the WIBE did not change either.

Key finding 14
Climate change

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

National key finding
Rising temperatures across Canada, along with changes in other climatic variables over the past 50 years, have had both direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems.

Climatic variables

Spring, summer, and winter temperatures increased from 1950 to 2007 across the WIBE (Table 7, Figure 39). Spring and fall precipitation increased, with some variability around the ecozone+, and winter precipitation decreased throughout the ecozone+(Figure 40). The duration of snow cover (Figure 41) and the amount of precipitation falling as snow decreased. With these changes, the growing season also started earlier and was longer at some stations.

Table 7. Summary of changes in climatic variables in the WIBE, 1950–2007. Footnote 134
Climatic variableOverall ecozone+ trend (1950–2007)Comments and regional variation
Temperaturerise of 1.9℃ in spring, 1.7℃ in summer,
and 2.1℃ in winter
Trends are consistent across ecozone+
Precipitationrise of 40% in spring precipitation
and 42% in fall precipitation
decrease of 22% in winter precipitation
rise in spring precipitation at a majority of
the stations
rise in fall precipitation concentrated in the
southeast
rise in summer precipitation at three
stations in the central east
decrease in winter precipitation spread
throughout the ecozone+
Snowdecrease in the amount of precipitation
falling as snow (9.8% decrease in the
absolute ratio)
decrease in snow duration in the late-winter
and spring (February to July)
No overall trend in snow depth
decrease in precipitation falling as snow across
the ecozone+
decrease in snow duration in the late-winter and
spring (February to July) by >20 days at
three of six stations
rise in maximum snow depth at Grand Forks
Growing seasonNo overall trend in growing seasonGrowing season was longer at two of
four stations (16.6 and 22.1 days)
Growing season started 16 days earlier in
Kamloops

Only significant trends (p<0.05) are included
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 and supplementary data provided by the authors

Figure 39: Change in mean temperature, 1950–2007 for a) spring (March–May), b) summer (June–August), c) fall (September–November), and d) winter (December–February)
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 Footnote 134 and supplementary data provided by the authors

map

Long Description for Figure 39

This set of four maps depicts change in mean annual temperature in spring, summer, fall, and winter in cities and towns in the WIBE between 1950 and 2007. Spring temperature increases were reported for Vernon (2.3℃), Kamloops and Princeton (1.9℃), and Summerland (1.7℃). Summer temperature increases were reported for Summerland (2.1℃), Vernon (2.0℃), Kamloops (1.5℃), and Princeton (1.3℃). Winter temperature increases were reported for Kamloops (2.6℃), Vernon (2.2℃), and Princeton (2.0℃). There were no significant increases detected for fall.

Figure 40. Change in the amount of precipitation, 1950–2007 for a) spring (March–May), b) summer (June–August), c) fall (September–November), and d) winter (December–February).
Expressed as a percentage of the 1961–1990 mean.
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 Footnote 134 and supplementary data provided by the authors

map

Long Description for Figure 40

This set of four maps depicts change in mean annual temperature in spring, summer, fall, and winter in cities and towns in the WIBE between 1950 and 2007. In spring, precipitation increased in Darfield (51.0%), Kamloops (52.1%), Westwold (81.7%), Merritt (62.5%), Vernon (56.7%), Okanagan Centre (59.6%), Kelowna (63.7%), Summerland (59.8%), Hedley (72.5%), Keremeos (87.9%) and Penticton (32.6%). In summer, precipitation increased in Westwold (48.3%), Vernon (51.3%) and Kelowna (66.8%). In fall, precipitation increased in Vernon (58.6%), Kelowna (43.1%), Pentiction (48.3%), Hedley (73.9%) and Keremeos (25.5%) and decreased in Lajoie Dam (-132.8%). In winter, decreases were observed in Shalalth (-92.3%), Kamloops (-29.8), Lytton (-49.6), Merritt (-68.5%), Kelowna (-40.7%), Joe Rich Creek (-40.9%), Princeton (-45.0%) and Beaverdell (-71.9%).

Figure 41: Change in snow duration, the number of days with ≥2 cm of snow on the ground, 1950–2007 in a) the first half of the snow season (August–January), which indicates changes in the start date of snow cover, and b) the second half of the snow season (February–July), which indicates changes in the end date of snow cover.
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 Footnote 134 and supplementary data provided by the authors

map

Long Description for Figure 41

This set of two maps shows there were no changes in the first half of the snow season; however, in the second half, the snow season ended earlier in Kamloops (-21.6 days), Westwold (-39.4 days), and Joe Rich Creek (-46.2 days).

Hydrology and climate analyses

Stream flow, temperature, and precipitation have changed between 1961–1982 and 1983–2003. These changes were analyzed using data from five hydrology stations clustered in the south of the WIBE. Footnote 135 There were stations located in the northern sections of the WIBE, but they were classified to the Montane Cordillera Ecozone+because membership was based on watershed areas, rather than station location. Footnote 135 The results from the Similkameen and Kettle rivers are provided as representative examples of the southwest and southeast, respectively. Both stations recorded earlier onsets of spring freshet, lower flows in late summer, and higher flows in early winter (Figure 42, Figure 43). The Kettle River station also recorded lower flows in early fall (Figure 43). These changes are driven by climate change as well as land alteration and conversion. Footnote 135 See also the Large lakes and Streams sections on pages 28 and 30, respectively.

Figure 42: Annual stream flow, temperature, and precipitation, comparing 1961–1982 (paler line) and 1983–2003 (darker line) for the Similkameen River at Princeton (Station 08NL007)
Source: Cannon et al., 2011 Footnote 135

Annual stream flow, temperature, and precipitation

Long Description for Figure 42

These three line figures compare earlier and later timespans from January to December for the onset of stream flow (m3/s), temperature, and precipitation. Streamflow showed that the onset of spring freshet occurred earlier, that flows were lower in late summer, and that flows were higher flows in early winter. Temperature (℃) was higher in more recent years in the spring and precipitation (mm) was lower in the spring, higher in the summer, and lower in the winter.

Figure 43: Annual stream flow, temperature, and precipitation, comparing 1961–1982 (paler line) and 1983 -2003 (darker line) for the Kettle River at Ferry (Station 08NN013)
Source: Cannon et al., 2011 Footnote 135

Annual stream flow, temperature

Long Description for Figure 43

These three line figures compare earlier and later timespans from January to December for the onset of stream flow (m3/s), temperature, and precipitation. Streamflow showed that the onset of spring freshet occurred earlier, that flows were lower in late summer and early fall, and that flows were higher flows in early winter. There was no difference in temperature (℃) and precipitation (mm) was higher in the spring and early summer.

Future climate predictions

Climate change in the WIBE is expected to have a range of effects on ecosystems and species such as:

  • the alteration of the distribution, extent, and composition of forests; Footnote 136
  • the loss of some ecosystems including some wetland and alpine areas; Footnote 137
  • a general expansion of species' ranges northwards and upslope; Footnote 137
  • an increase in growing days; Footnote 137 and
  • a more rain-dominated stream flow for the Okanagan Basin with earlier peak runoff and an extended period of low flows in summer. Footnote 138 Footnote 139 Footnote 140

Key finding 15
Ecosystem services

Theme: Human/ecosystem interactions

National key finding
Canada is well endowed with a natural environment that provides ecosystem services upon which our quality of life depends. In some areas where stressors have impaired ecosystem function, the cost of maintaining ecosystem services is high and deterioration in quantity, quality, and access to ecosystem services is evident.

Ecosystem services in the WIBE include water (a provisioning service), crop pollination (a regulating service), and nutrient cycling (a supporting service); these are necessary for food production and potable water. Other provisioning services harvested commercially or recreationally including forests, wildlife, and fish. The WIBE's ecosystems also provide cultural services, which include educational, recreational, and spiritual experiences.

Ecosystem services in the WIBE have not been systematically quantified for their economic value. However, a project initiated in 2012–13 will estimate the value of ecosystem services supported by the last remaining natural (unchannelled) section of the Okanagan River. Footnote 141


Content Footnote

Footnote 3

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada. 2010. Canadian biodiversity strategy: ecosystem status and trends 2010. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. vi + 142 p.

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Footnote 8

Pitt, M. and Hooper, T.D. 1994. Threats to biodiversity of grasslands in British Columbia. In Biodiversity in British Columbia: our changing environment. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. Chapter 20. pp. 279-292.

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Footnote 12

Ahern, F., Frisk, J., Latifovic, R. and Pouliot, D. 2011. Monitoring ecosystems remotely: a selection of trends measured from satellite observations of Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 17. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON.

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Footnote 14

Austin, M.A., Buffett, D.A., Nicolson, D.J., Scudder, G.G.E. and Stevens, V. (eds.). 2008. Taking nature's pulse: the status of biodiversity in British Columbia. Biodiversity BC. Victoria, BC. 268 p.

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Footnote 19

BC Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands. 2010. The state of British Columbia's forests: third edition. Forest Practices and Investment Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands. Victoria, BC. xiii + 308 p.

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Footnote 20

Lea, T. 2008. Historical (pre-settlement) ecosystems of the Okanagan Valley and Lower Similkameen Valley of British Columbia: pre-European contact to the present. Davidsonia 19:3-36.

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Footnote 38

Gayton, D.V. 2004. Native and non-native plant species in grazed grasslands of British Columbia's southern interior. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management 5:51-59.

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Footnote 46

BC River Forecast Centre. 2011. Unpublished analysis of data obtained from the Water Survey of Canada: Normal analysis and net inflow calulations for Okanagan Lake 1921-2011 [online]. Water Survey of Canada. (accessed 2 February, 2012).

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Footnote 49

Austin, M.A. and Eriksson, A. 2009. The biodiversity atlas of British Columbia. Biodiversity BC. 135 p.

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Footnote 76

CCEA. 2009. Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS), v.2009.05 [online]. Canadian Council on Ecological Areas. http://ccea.org/en_carts.html (accessed 5 November, 2009).

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Footnote 77

IUCN. 1994. Guidelines for protected area management categories. Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas with the assistance of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, International Union for Conservation of Nature. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. x + 261 p.&lt;&lt;/p&gt;

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Footnote 78

Parks Canada. 2011. South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen National Park Reserve feasibility assessment [online]. Parks Canada. (accessed 7 May, 2013)

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Footnote 79

Environment Canada. 2009. Unpublished analysis of data by ecozone+ from: Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS), v.2009.05 [online]. Canadian Council on Ecological Areas. http://ccea.org/en_carts.html (accessed 5 November, 2009).

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Footnote 80

Dyer, O. and Wood, C. 2007. Conservation assessment for South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP) priority ecosystems. British Columbia Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. Penticton, BC. Unpublished report.

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Footnote 81

Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. 1994. Overview of ecosystem diversity. In Biodiversity in British Columbia: our changing environment. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. Chapter 18. pp. 227-244.

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Footnote 82

Seaton, R. 2003. Ecosystem at risk: antelope brush restoration. Osoyoos, BC. 28 March, 2003. Edited by Seaton, R. Society for Ecological Restoration, BC Chapter and The Desert Centre.76 p. Conference proceedings.

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Footnote 83

Bezener, A., Dunn, M., Richardson, H., Dyer, O., Hawes, R. and Hayes, T. 2004. South Okanagan-Similkameen conservation program: a multi-partnered, multi-species, multi-scale approach to conservation of species at risk. In Proceedings of the Species at Risk 2004 Pathways to Recovery Conference. Victoria, BC, 2-6 March, 2004. Edited by Hooper, T.D. Pathways to Recovery Conference Organizing Committee. Victoria, BC.

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Footnote 84

Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project. 2007. Interior Columbia Basin ecosystem management project. [online].United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and Pacific Northwest Research Station. (accessed 28 October, 2009).

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Footnote 85

Demarchi, D., Kavanagh, K., Sims, M. and Mann, G. 2001. Okanagan dry forests (NA0522) [online]. World Wildlife Fund and Island Press. (accessed 3 March, 2011).

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Footnote 86

Vold, T. 1992. The status of wilderness in British Columbia: a gap analysis. Ministry of Forests. Victoria, BC.

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Footnote 87

Harding, L.E. 1994. Exotic species in British Columbia. In Biodiversity in British Columbia: our changing environment. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. Chapter 17. pp. 159-226.

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Footnote 88

BC Statistics. 2011. Data tables for municipalities, regional districts, and development regions, 2006-2010 [online]. BC Statistics. (accessed 10 September, 2011).

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Footnote 89

BC Statistics. 2007. British Columbia municipal census populations, 1921-2006: Victoria [online]. BC Statistics.
(accessed 26 August, 2009).

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Footnote 90

Schlaepfer, M.A., Sax, D.F. and Olden, J.D. 2011. The potential conservation value of non-native species. Conservation Biology 25:428-437.

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Footnote 91

Environment Canada. Invasive alien species in Canada [online]. (accessed 10 July, 2013).

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Footnote 92

Vilá, M., Espinar, J.L., Hejda, M., Hulme, P.E., Jarosik, V., Maron, J.L., Pergl, J., Schaffner, U., Sun, Y. and Pysek, P. 2011. Ecological impacts of invasive alien plants: a meta-analysis of their effects on species, communities and ecosystems. Ecology Letters 14:702-708.

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Footnote 93

Frid, L., Knowler, D., Murray, C., Myers, J. and Scott, L. 2009. Economic impacts of invasive plants in BC. Invasive Plant Council of BC and ESSA Technologies Ltd. Vancouver, BC. 105 p.

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Footnote 94

Smith, R. 1994. Effects of alien insects and microorganisms on the biodiversity of British Columbia's insect fauna. In Biodiversity in British Columbia: our changing environment. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. Chapter 17. pp. 190-219.

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Footnote 95

Myers, J.H. 2007. How many and what kind of biocontrol agents: a case study with diffuse knapweed. In Biocontrol: A global perspective. Edited by Vincent, C., Goettel, M.S. and Lazarovits, G. CAB International. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. pp. 70-79.

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Footnote 96

Myers, J.H., Jackson, C., Quinn, H., White, S.R. and Cory, J.S. 2009. Successful biological control of diffuse knapweed, Centaurea diffusa, in British Columbia, Canada. Biological Control 50:66-72.

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Footnote 97

BC Ministry of Agriculture. 2012. Biological weed control in British Columbia [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture.(accessed 6 February, 2012).

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Footnote 98

BC Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands. 2010. The state of British Columbia's forests, third edition. Forest Practices and Investment Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands. Victoria, BC. xiii + 308 p.

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Footnote 99

BC Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The Invasive Alien Plant Program (IAPP) application [online].British Columbia Ministry of Forests,Lands and Natural (accessed 3 March, 2012).

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Footnote 100

Miller, V. 2010. Personal communication. Invasive Plant Officer, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Nelson, BC.

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Footnote 101

Cannings, R., Durance, E. and Scott, L.K. 1988. South Okanagan ecosystem recovery plan: scientific assessment. Cannings Holm Consulting. Naramata, BC. 122 p.

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Footnote 102

BC Ministry of Agriculture. 2007. Knapweed - its cost to British Columbia [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture

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Footnote 103

Harding, L.E. 1994. Introduced wildflowers and range and agricultural weeds in British Columbia. In Biodiversity in British Columbia: Our changing environment. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. pp. 162-172.

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Footnote 104

Rankin, C. 2004. Invasive alien species framework for BC: identifying and addressing threats to biodiversity: a working document to address issues associated with biodiversity in British Columbia. Biodiversity Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. Victoria, BC. 108 p.

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Footnote 105

Martin, M. 2003. Common reed (Phragmites australis) in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada. Victoria, BC. Botanical Electronic News,

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Footnote 106

Brothers, K., Ceska, A., Colangeli, A., Coupé, R., Fairbarns, M., Fenneman, J., Ganders, F., Grilz, P., Klinkenberg, B., Klinkenberg, R., Lewis, G., Penny, J. and Whitton, J. 2013. E-Flora BC: Electronic atlas of the plants of British Columbia [online]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis. (accessed 22 May, 2013).

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Footnote 107

Southern Interior Weed Management Committee. 2013. Thompson-Nicola Regional District noxious weed control programs [online]. (accessed 7 May, 2013).

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Footnote 108

Campbell, R.W., Dawe, N.K., McTaggart-Cowan, I., Cooper, J.M., Kaiser, G.W., McNall, M.C.E. and Smith, G.E.J. 1997. The birds of British Columbia, volume 3: passerines - flycatchers through vireos. UBC Press. Vancouver, BC. 693 p.

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Footnote 109

Voller, J. and McNay, R.S. 2007. Problem analysis: effects of invasive species on species at risk in British Columbia. FORREX Series No. 20. FORREX Forest Research Extension Partnership. Kamloops, BC. 145 p.

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Footnote 110

Herborg, M. 2011. Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Victoria BC. Unpublished data.

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Footnote 111

Rae, R. 2005. The state of fish and fish habitat in the Okanagan and Similkameen basins. Canadian Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group. Westbank, BC. 125 p.

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Footnote 112

Johnson, E.E. 2009. A quantitative risk assessment model for the management of invasive yellow perch in Shuswap Lake, British Columbia. Thesis (Master of Resource Management). Simon Fraser University, School of Resource and Environmental Management. Burnaby, BC. 94 p.

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Footnote 113

Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. 2004. Rainbow trout strains currently stocked in BC waters. Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. iii + 22 p.

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Footnote 114

Hirner, J.L.M. 2006. Relationships between trout stocking and amphibians in British Columbia's southern interior lakes. Thesis (Master of Resource Management). Simon Fraser University, School of Resource and Environmental Management. x + 118 p.

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Footnote 115

Northcote, T. 1991. Success, problems, and control of introduced mysid populations in lakes and reservoirs. American Fisheries Society Symposium 9:5-16.

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Footnote 116

Whall, J. and Lasenby, D. 2000. Comparison of the trophic role of the freshwater shrimp (Mysis relicta) in two Okanagan Valley lakes, British Columbia. In Okanagan Lake action plan year 4 (1999) report. Edited by Andrusak, H., Sebastian, D., McGregor, I., Matthews, S., Smith, D., Ashley, K., Pollard, S., Scholten, G., Stockner, J., Ward, P., Kirk, R., Lasenby, D., Webster, J., Whall, J., Wilson, G. and Yassien, H. BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. Victoria, BC. pp. 259-277.

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Footnote 117

Andrusak, H. 2008. Okanagan Lake action plan years 11 (2006) and 12 (2007) with reference to results from 1996-2007. In Okanagan Lake Action Plan, Years 11 (2006) and 12 (2007) Report. Fisheries Project Report No. RD124. Edited by Andrusak, H., Andrusak, G., Matthews, S., Wilson, A., White, T., Askey, P., Sebastian, D., Scholten, G., Woodruff, P., Webster, J., Vidmanic, L. and Stockner, J. BC Ministry of Environment. Victoria, BC. pp. 1-24.

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Footnote 118

Schindler, D.E., Carter, J.L., Francis, T.B., Lisi, P.J., Askey, P.J. and Sebastian, D.C. 2012. Mysis in the Okanagan Lake food web: a time-series analysis of interaction strengths in an invaded plankton community. Aquatic Ecology 46:215-227.

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Footnote 119

Andrusak, H. and White, W. 2008. Results of Mysis relicta experimental commercial fishery on Okanagan Lake, 2006 and 2007. In Okanagan Lake Action Plan, Years 11 (2006) and 12 (2007) Report. Fisheries Project Report No. RD124. Edited by Andrusak, H., G.Andrusak, S.Matthews, A.Wilson, T.White, P.Askey, D.Sebastian, G.Scholten, P.Woodruff, J.Webster, L.Vidmanic and J.Stockner. BC Ministry of Environment. Victoria BC. pp. 249-275.

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Footnote 120

Dunbar, G. 2009. Management plan for eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) in the Okanagan, British Columbia. Okanagan Basin Water Board. 62 p.

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Footnote 121

BC Ministry of Agriculture. 2013. Aggressive ornamentals, saltcedar [online]. (accessed 7 May, 2013).

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Footnote 122

Parish, R., Coupé, R. and Lloyd, D. (eds.). 1996. Plants of southern interior British Columbia. Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing. Vancouver, BC. 462 p.

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Footnote 123

Elliott, J.E., Machmer, M.M., Wilson, L.K. and Henny, C.J. 2000. Contaminants in ospreys from the Pacific Northwest: II. Organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and mercury 1991-1997. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 38:93-106.

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Footnote 124

Gill, H., Wilson, L.K., Cheng, K.M. and Elliott, J.E. 2003. An assessment of DDT and other chlorinated compounds and the reproductive success of American robins (Turdus migratorius) breeding in fruit orchards. Ecotoxicology 12:113-123.

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Footnote 125

Elliott, J.E., Martin, P.A., Arnold, T.W. and Sinclair, P.H. 1994. Organochlorines and reproductive success of birds in orchard and non-orchard areas of central British Columbia, Canada, 1990-91. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 26:435-443.

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Footnote 126

Rae, R. and Jensen, V. 2007. Contaminants in Okanagan fish: recent analyses and review of historic data. Okanagan Nation Alliance Fisheries Department. Westbank, BC. 48 p.

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Footnote 127

Drury, C.F., Yang, J.Y. and De Jong, R. 2011. Trends in residual soil nitrogen for agricultural land in Canada, 1981-2006. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 15. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. iii + 16 p.

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Footnote 128

BC Ministry of Environment. 2003. Water quality objectives for Okanagan Lake: overview. Update to the report: Phosphorus in the Okanagan Valley lakes: sources, water quality objectives and control possibilities (1985). British Columbia Ministry of Environment.

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Footnote 129

Lakeshore Environmental Ltd. 2002. Environmental impact study on discharge options, liquid waste management plan main arm, Shuswap Lake. 51 p.

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Footnote 130

Northwest Hydraulic Consultants. 13 A.D. 2011 Shuswap and Mara lakes water quality report. Prepared for the Shuswap Lakes Integrated Planning Process and the Fraser Basin Council. 160 + App. p.

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Footnote 131

Infrastructure Canada. 2013. Canada and BC partner to improve water quality in Sicamous and Mara Lake [online]. (accessed 5 September, 2013).

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Footnote 132

Jensen, V. and Suzuki, N. 2011. Personal communication. Senior environmental impact biologist (VJ), Ministry of Environment, Penticton BC; air quality science specialist (NS), Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC.

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Footnote 133

Phippen, B.W., Parks, D.C., Swain, L.G., Nordin, R., McKean, C.J.P., Holms, G.B., Warrington, P.D., Nijman, R., Deniseger, J. and Erickson, L. 1996. A ten-year assessment of water quality in six acid-rain-sensitive British Columbia lakes (1984-1994). BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.

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Footnote 134

Zhang, X., Brown, R., Vincent, L., Skinner, W., Feng, Y. and Mekis, E. 2011. Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 5. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. iv + 21 p.

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Footnote 135

Cannon, A., Lai, T. and Whitfield, P. 2011. Climate-driven trends in Canadian streamflow, 1961-2003. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 19. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. Draft report.

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Footnote 136

Hamann, A. and Wang, T. 2006. Potential effects of climate change on ecosystem and tree species distribution in British Columbia. Ecology 87:2773-2786.

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Footnote 137

Gayton, D.V. 2008. Impacts of climate change on British Columbia's biodiversity: a literature review. FORREX Forest Research Extension Partnership. Kamloops, BC. 24 p.

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Footnote 138

Brewer, R., Cohen, S., Embley, E., Hamilton, S., Julian, M., Kulkami, T., Taylor, B., Tansey, J., VanWynsberghe, R. and Whitfield, P. 2004. Water management and climate change in the Okanagan Basin. Edited by Cohen, S. and Kulkarni, T. Environment Canada and University of British Columbia. 75 p.

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Footnote 139

Cohen, S., Neilsen, D. and Smith, S. 2004. Expanding the dialogue on climate change and water management in the Okanagan Basin, British Columbia: final report. Edited by Cohen, S., Neilsen, D. and Welbourn, R. Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 257 p.

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Footnote 140

Merritt, W. and Alila, Y. 2004. Hydrology. In Expanding the dialogue on climate change and water management in the Okanagan basin, British Columbia. Edited by Cohen, S., Neilsen, D. and Welbourn, R. Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and University of British Columbia. Vancouver, BC. pp. 63-88. .

Return to Footnote 140 référence

Return to Table of Contents

Theme: Habitat, Wildlife, and Ecosystem Processes

Key finding 16
Agricultural landscapes as habitat

Theme: Habitat, wildlife, and ecosystem processes

National key finding
The potential capacity of agricultural landscapes to support wildlife in Canada has declined over the past 20 years, largely due to the intensification of agriculture and the loss of natural and semi-natural land cover.

Top of Page

The Province of BC zones agricultural land as part of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). These lands are designated with agriculture as the primary use; other uses are controlled. Footnote 142 There is pressure to remove land from the ALR for other uses such as urban development.

Most of the agricultural lands (81%) in the WIBE are in the northeast region of the ecozone+ (Figure 44). Footnote 143 Between 1986 and 2006, the agricultural land base in the WIBE expanded from 4,810 to 5,690 km2, approximately 10% of the ecozone+. At lower elevations, grazing, forage production, and orchards were common; grazing in woodlands was associated with middle elevations.

Figure 44: Percentage of land defined as agricultural in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2006.

map

Long Description for Figure 44

This map shows the percentage of agriculture in 10% categories from 0-10% to 90-100%. The highest percentages are in the South Thompson River around Kamloops and in the southeastern part of the ecozone+. The lowest percentages are in the southern ecozone+, particularly in the west.

Source: Javorek and Grant, 2011 Footnote 143

Unimproved Pasture, which included pasture lands that have not been cultivated or managed such as native pasture, rangeland, and grazeable bush, was the most common agricultural land cover in the WIBE and increased from 64% to 67% from 1986 to 2006 (Figure 45). Footnote 143In contrast, Improved Pasture declined from 9% to 5% (Figure 45). Footnote 143 Cropland, which included all agricultural land except for All Other Land, Unimproved Pasture, Improved Pasture, and Summerfallow, expanded by 6% to make up 15% of agricultural land (Figure 45). Footnote 143 The category Fruit Trees, an important cover type in the WIBE, contained trees such as apple, peach, plum, cherry, apricot, pear, and other tree fruits or nuts, as well as grapes (vineyards). Fruit Trees declined from 2.4% to 1.6% between 1986 and 2006 (Figure 45). Footnote 143

Figure 45: Total agricultural area and the amount of land per cover type (bar chart) and the relative percentage of cover types for the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ in 1986, 1996, and 2006.
To convert hectares to km2, divide by 100.
Source: Javorek and Grant, 2011 Footnote 143

graph

Long Description for Figure 45

This graphic presents a stacked bar graph showing the following information:

Data for figure 45
 1986 - Agricultural land (ha)1996 - Agricultural land (ha)2006 - Agricultural land (ha)
Oilseeds474195849
Pulses142162404
Soybeans000
Berries83165163
Improved Pasture42,15142,12930,699
All Other Land84,26793,23268,850
Summerfallow5,9653,0702,199
Unimproved Pasture306,207312,398381,413
Cereals5,3008,3187,284
Corn2,3871,7862,297
Tame Hay20,84354,63564,114
Other Crops370748662
Fruit Trees11,5049,6429,322
Vegetables814804712
Winter Cereals1,338916786

Wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land

A total of 323 terrestrial vertebrates (232 birds, 72 mammals, 10 reptiles, 9 amphibians) are associated with agricultural lands in the WIBE. The All Other Land cover type was the most species rich with 85% of these species using it for both breeding and feeding habitat. The most common agricultural land cover type, Unimproved Pasture, fulfilled breeding and feeding requirements of 25% of these species and provided a single habitat requirement (breeding or feeding) for 44% of these species. Only 12% of these species were able to use Cropland for both breeding and feeding habitat, whereas 25% were able to obtain a single habitat requirement from Cropland. Footnote 143

Wildlife habitat capacity was calculated for each species using a model that incorporated breeding and feeding requirements in terms of cover type and habitat value to the species.143 The "status" of habitat capacity on agricultural land in Canada for 1986, 1996, and 2006 was determined by generating ten categories (Very Low:<20, 20–30, Low: 30–40, 40–50, Moderate: 50–60, 60–70, High: 70–80, 80–90 and Very High: 90–100, >100) based on the national distribution of habitat capacity scores from all reporting Soil Landscapes of Canada polygons. Footnote 143Average wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural land in the WIBE declined from high capacity in 1986 to moderate capacity in 2006 (Figure 46). Over this time period, habitat capacity decreased on 35%, increased on 7%, and remained stable on 58% of agricultural lands (Figure 47).

Figure 46: The share of agricultural land in each habitat capacity category (left axis; stacked bars) and the average habitat capacity (right axis, symbols) for the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ in 1986, 1996, and 2006.
Letters indicate a statistically significant difference.
Source: Javorek and Grant, 2011 Footnote 143

graph

Long Description for Figure 46

This stacked percentage bar graph shows the following information:

Data for figure 46
 1986 - Share of agricultural land
per habitat
capacity category
1996 - Share of agricultural land
per habitat
capacity category
2006 - Share of agricultural land
per habitat
capacity category
<200.000.000.00
20-300.000.450.00
30-400.000.000.46
40-500.933.132.70
50-6032.1319.8969.42
60-7028.5347.5822.92
70-8027.9117.203.61
80-907.9210.260.49
90-1002.301.490.16
>1000.280.000.16
Habitat capacity Categories
Very high90 to 100
High70 to 90
Moderate50 to 70
Low30 to 50
Very low< 20 to 30

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Figure 47: Changes in wildlife habitat capacity on agricultural lands in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 1986–2006.
Source: Javorek and Grant, 2011 Footnote 143

Changes in wildlife habitat

Long Description for Figure 47

This is a map of habitat capacity, which decreased significantly on 35% of agricultural lands, increased on 7%, and remained stable on 58%. These changes were distributed throughout the ecozone+.

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Soil erosion

Due to the dry climate, the risk of soil erosion by water is generally low in the WIBE except on tilled complex slopes where tillage erosion is important (Figure 48). Footnote 144

Figure 48: Soil erosion risk classes of agricultural land in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2006.
Source: McConkey et al., 2011 Footnote 144

Soil erosion risk classes

Long Description for Figure 48

This map showed that the risk of soil erosion by water was generally low in the WIBE except on tilled complex slopes where tillage erosion is important. Most agricultural areas in the WIBE were very low risk,< 6 tonnes soil lost/ha/yr. There were areas of low risk, 6–11 t/ha/yr, in the southern Okanagan and just south of the South Thompson River. There was a section of moderate risk, 11–22 t/ha/yr, near the Similkameen River.

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Additional information related to agricultural landscapes can be found in the Grasslands section on page 19 and the Species of special economic, cultural, or ecological interest section on page 66.

Microbiotic soil crust

The grazing of introduced livestock has altered the structure of the Bunchgrass and Ponderosa Pine zones of the WIBE from dominance by native bunchgrasses to increasing cover of native shrubs such as big sage (Artemesia tridentata) as well as non-native species. Footnote 145Natural grasslands in semi-arid environments, including those in the WIBE, often have lichen-dominated microbiotic soil crusts that provide important ecological functions including soil formation and soil surface stabilization, nutrient cycling, seed germination, food and shelter, and moisture retention. Footnote 146 These have been extensively damaged in the WIBE by livestock trampling. Footnote 147 Loss of the soil crust results in a decrease in water retention. For example, five days after rain, soils covered by microbiotic crust in antelope-brush shrub-steppe habitats of South Okanagan retained an average of 31% of the moisture that was present in the soil on day 1, while bare soils retained only 9.5%. Footnote 148 This is particularly important for healthy plant development in semi-arid environments.

Loss of soil crust also encourages the spread of invasive alien plant species by providing suitable beds for germination of their seeds and the WIBE is more affected by invasive alien plants than any other part of BC. Footnote 145 The result is a major loss of rangeland productivity for livestock and degradation of the native grassland plant communities. Footnote 93 Footnote 104 See also the Invasive terrestrial plants section on page 46.

Key finding 17
Species of special economic, cultural, or ecological interest

Theme: Habitat, wildlife, and ecosystem processes

National key finding
Many species of amphibians, fish, birds, and large mammals are of special economic, cultural, or ecological interest to Canadians. Some of these are declining in number and distribution, some are stable, and others are healthy or recovering.

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Sagebrush-dominated ecosystems are rare in Canada and, as the northern extension of the sagebrush-dominated Great Basin Desert of the US, Footnote 8the WIBE contains assemblages of plants and animals that occur nowhere else in Canada. Footnote 26The species richness is high throughout much of this ecozone+ (Figure 49), including a large number of species and ecosystems of conservation concern.

Figure 49: Distribution of species richness of vascular plants, vertebrates, butterflies and dragonflies in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2008.
Source: Austin and Eriksson, 2009 Footnote 49

map

Long Description for Figure 49

This is a map of the number of species in large grids in the WIBE. The greatest species richness, greater than 500, is in the south and around Kelowna.

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Species of conservation concern

NatureServe is a conservation organization that identifies animals and plants in North America according to global conservation concern. Footnote 149 The BC Conservation Data Centre performs the same function for BC. Footnote 150 The WIBE has 7 species of animals and 48 species of plants of global conservation concern and 131 species of animals and 305 species of plants of provincial conservation concern (Table 8 and Table 9); some of these rankings are for subspecies. A species' ranking changes between geographic levels because a species may be secure throughout its entire range (global or G-rank) but of conservation concern in the portion of its range that occurs in BC (provincial or S-rank). At both levels, species are classified as critically imperilled, imperilled, vulnerable, apparently secure, and secure. In addition, S-ranks for birds include the qualifiers of breeding, non-breeding, and migrant populations.

Many of the Great Basin Desert-associated plants and animals of the WIBE are at the northern limit of their range. Therefore, many species in the WIBE are ranked for conservation concern at the provincial level but not at the global level. These peripheral populations have special importance for biological conservation and the long-term persistence of these species. Peripheral populations may have unique genetic or behavioural attributes relative to the core population. These attributes can provide the species with resilience to changing environmental conditions as well as providing a source of individuals for reintroductions and translocations. Footnote 151 Footnote 152

Table 8. Number of animal species and subspecies assessed for global conservation concern (G-rank,
left number) and provincial conservation concern (S-rank, right number) in the Thompson and Okanagan regions. Footnote 153
Conservation Status RankAmphibiansBreeding BirdsGastropods and bivalvesInsectsMammalsRay-finned fishReptiles and turtlesTotals
Extinct or Extirpated0; 00; 00; 00; 10; 00; 00; 10; 2
Historical0; 00; 00; 10; 01; 10; 00; 01; 2
Critically Imperilled0; 10; 90; 10; 100; 60; 00; 10; 28
Imperilled0; 10; 91; 20; 60; 70; 70; 31; 35
Vulnerable0; 31; 183; 60; 180; 91; 60; 45; 64
Total species and
subspecies of
conservation concern
0; 51; 364; 100; 351; 231; 130; 97; 131
Apparently secure or
secure
7; 243; 86; 035; 025; 318; 612; 3146; 22
Not ranked or unrankable0; 00; 00; 00; 00; 00; 00; 00; 0
Total number of species
assessed
7441035261912153

These data include subspecies separately when they are ranked separately.
If there is uncertainty about a species' conservation status, it may be ranked with a range, such as S2S3.
In these cases, species were included in the totals for the first ranking of the range (S2 in the example).
Data for birds indicate provincial ranking for breeding populations.
The Thompson and Okanagan regions are BC Ministry of Environment boundaries that together
approximate the WIBE.
Source: BC Ministry of Environment, 2011

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Table 9. Number of plant species assessed for global conservation concern (G-rank, left number) and provincial conservation concern (S-rank, right number) in the Thompson and Okanagan regions. Footnote 153
Conservation Status RankVascularNon-vascularTotals
Extinct or Extirpated0; 00; 00; 0;
Historical0; 70; 00; 7
Critically Imperilled0; 1011; 151; 116
Imperilled8; 1195; 2413; 143
Vulnerable15; 2619; 1334; 39
Total species of conservation
concern
23; 25325; 5248; 305
Apparently secure or secure226; 122; 0248; 1
Not ranked or unrankable5; 05; 010; 0
Total number of species assessed25452306

If there is uncertainty about a species' conservation status, it may be ranked with a range, such as S2S3.
In these cases, species were included in the totals for the first ranking of the range (S2 in the example).
The Thompson and Okanagan regions are BC Ministry of Environment boundaries that together
approximate the WIBE.
Source: BC Ministry of Environment, 2011

At the national level, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assesses species to determine if they are at risk of extinction or extirpation. Species designated by COSEWIC as being at risk may qualify for legal protection and recovery efforts under the Species at Risk Act. Footnote 154 In the WIBE, 93 animal species, subspecies, or populations have been assessed or are candidates for assessment by COSEWIC, and 54 of these are under Species at Risk Act protection (Table 10). Of plant species occurring in the WIBE, 28 have been assessed or are candidates for assessment by COSEWIC and 20 are under Species at Risk Act protection (Table 11).

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Table 10. Number of animal species, subspecies, and populations assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC) Footnote 153, Footnote 155 in the Thompson and Okanagan regions.
COSEWIC StatusAmphibiansBreeding BirdsGastropods
and bivalves
InsectsMammalsRay-finned fishReptiles and
turtles
Totals
Extinct or Extirpated------11
Endangered281416224
Threatened16-222215
Special Concern27-285529
Not at Risk29--22217
Candidate for
Assessment
-2-1-1-4
Data Deficient----21-3
Number assessed by
COSEWIC
7321915171293
Number protected by
the Species at Risk Act
51816106854

These data include subspecies and populations separately when they are ranked separately.
The Thompson and Okanagan regions are BC Ministry of Environment boundaries that together approximate the WIBE.
Source: BC Ministry of Environment, 2011

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Table 11. Number of plant species assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC) Footnote 153 Footnote 155in the Thompson and Okanagan regions.
Conservation Status RankVascularNon-vascularTotals
Extinct or Extirpated---
Endangered11213
Threatened415
Special Concern213
Not at Risk4 4
Candidate for Assessment112
Data Deficient1-1
Number assessed by COSEWIC23528
Number protected by the Species at
Risk Act
16420

The Thompson and Okanagan regions are BC Ministry of Environment boundaries that together
approximate the WIBE.
Source: BC Ministry of Environment, 2011

Ecosystems of conservation concern

NatureServe and the BC Conservation Data Centre also identify and rank the conservation concern of ecological communities, or ecosystems, in North America and BC, respectively. The identification of ecological communities in BC is ongoing. Footnote 150 The WIBE has 54 ecosystems of global conservation concern and 185 ecosystems of provincial conservation concern (Table 12). More information about individual ecosystems can be found in the Forests section on page 13, the Grasslands section on page 19, the Wetlands section on page 25, the Lakes and rivers section on page 28, and in the Ecosystem conversion section on page 40.

Table 12. Number of ecosystems (ecological communities) assessed for global conservation concern (G-rank, left number) and provincial conservation concern (S-rank, right number) in the Thompson and Okanagan regions. Footnote 153
Conservation status rankAlpineForest and woodlandGrassland, herbaceous, and shrubWetland and riparianTotals
Extinct or Extirpated0; 00; 00; 00; 00; 0
Historical0; 00; 00; 00; 00; 0
Critically Imperilled0; 01; 61; 53; 115; 22
Imperilled1; 06; 316; 135; 1818; 62
Vulnerable0; 07; 672; 322; 3131; 101
Total ecosystems of
conservation concern
1; 014; 1049; 2130; 6054; 185
Apparently secure or secure2; 16; 828; 410; 726; 94
Not ranked or unrankable45; 47167; 130; 2227; 0269; 70
Total number of ecosystems assessed481874767349

Some ecosystems are identified in more than one group (e.g., the Betula occidentalis/Rosa spp.
(water birch/roses) ecosystem is classified first in the riparian group and second in the shrub group).
For this analysis, each ecosystem was placed with its primary group.
The Thompson and Okanagan regions are BC Ministry of Environment boundaries that together approximate the WIBE.
Source: BC Ministry of Environment, 2011

Species of special interest

Birds

From 1973 to 2006, the abundance of landbirds in the WIBE declined significantly (p<0.05) in all habitats except shrub/successional habitats, where they increased (Figure 50). Footnote 156 Declines in bird populations have been attributed to the cumulative impacts of ecosystem conversion to agricultural lands, overgrazing by livestock, forest harvest, insect outbreaks that affect bird habitats, habitat fragmentation, urban development, altered fire regimes, and invasion of non-native plants. Footnote 157 Footnote 158 Footnote 159 Footnote 160

Figure 50: Annual indices of population change in bird assemblages for five habitat categories. The index is an estimate of the average number of individual birds that would be counted on a randomly selected route by an average observer in a given year.
The index is an estimate of the average number of individual birds that would be counted on a randomly
selected route by an average observer in a given year.
Source: Downes et al. 2011 Footnote 156

graph

Long Description for Figure 50

This figure has five line graphs of abundance indices. They show the following information:

Data for figure 50
YearShrub/successionalGrasslandOther open
habitat
Urban and
Suburban
Forest
197343.540.2119.2136.3201.7
197447.138.793.1192.5220.6
197550.255.4107.8177.3233.1
197662.655.6127.1138.3230.1
197746.648.4106.5125.6195.9
197850.154.5133.5160.1198.9
197954.247.2143.2130.7227.5
198058.747.6115.1169.6229.0
198157.147.1103.3138.2203.6
198263.734.599.5118.2154.7
198348.139.777.2119.9204.6
198460.843.690.7132.8240.0
198556.935.794.4140.8183.1
198655.338.195.6122.5258.6
198763.847.3113.0166.0268.6
198860.837.1106.1147.3261.0
198958.247.685.2125.4226.9
199065.642.5100.9135.3225.9
199177.941.283.5128.0226.6
199260.749.2104.6136.4223.1
199364.439.791.1110.2207.0
199460.234.597.9116.8229.8
199557.031.493.3125.6218.4
199655.332.177.3120.5207.0
199755.026.185.4138.0186.4
199859.133.178.2119.1180.4
199955.130.683.5115.1162.7
200054.427.176.5116.0185.4
200157.428.573.1106.8202.8
200256.424.763.598.0170.2
200359.221.762.2108.6177.8
200460.126.469.5109.5177.1
200555.030.063.6106.1152.8
200666.636.566.0108.5166.4

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Burrowing owls

Burrowing owls are ground-dwelling birds that use burrows created by ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and badgers for nesting and roosting. They are losing habitat as shortgrass prairies are converted to agricultural crop production. Footnote 161 Moreover, the use of pesticides has reduced the availability of food for the owls. Footnote 162From 1990 to 2000, the number of owls declined by 90% Footnote 162 and the species was designated as Endangered in 1995. Footnote 162 The wild BC population has been augmented through a captive breeding program since 1992. Footnote 163

Sage thrashers

Sage thrashers (Oreoscoptes montanus) are one of Canada's rarest bird species. They are found in mature sagebrush habitats, which are under threat from conversion to intensive agriculture, housing, and golf courses. Footnote 164 In the southern Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, habitat loss has reduced the number of breeding adults to fewer than 30 individuals. Footnote 164 Sage thrashers were designated as Endangered in 1992. Footnote 153

Williamson's sapsuckers

Williamson's sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) are losing their habitat, old-growth western larch (Larix occidentalis), to timber harvest and land clearing. Footnote 165 The 2005 population was estimated to be 430 breeding adults with 85% of these individuals in the southern Okanagan (the Okanagan–Greenwood population). Footnote 165 They were designated as Endangered in 2005. Footnote 153

Ungulates

First Nations and recreational hunters harvest many of the ungulate species in the WIBE. Most ungulate populations in the WIBE were stable or increasing from 2008 to 2011 with the exceptions of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) and mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) (Table 13). Footnote 166

Table 13. The status and trends (2008–2011) of ungulate populations in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+. Footnote 166
SpeciesThompson region: Estimated population and trendOkanagan region: Estimated population and trend
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)35,000–55,000;
Increasing
28,000–42,000; Increasing
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)5,000–8,000; Increasing31,000–44,000; Increasing
Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)1,000–2,000; IncreasingNone
Moose (Alces alces)8,000-12,000; Increasing2,000-3,000; Stable
Elk (Cervus canadensis)300-400;
Stable/Increasing
1,000-1,500; Increasing
Caribou200–300; Declining5–15; Stable
Bighorn sheep Table Footnote a2,000-2,500; Increasing1,000-1,200; Stable/Increasing
Mountain goat1,400-2,000; Declining200-300; Stable

Source: BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2011

Table Footnote

Footnote 1

Thompson region includes both California and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep; the Okanagan region has only California bighorn sheep.
Population trends: Declining is >20% decline; Stable is<20% change; Increasing is >20% increase.
The Thompson and Okanagan regions are BC Ministry of Environment boundaries that together approximate the WIBE.

Return to Footnoteareferrer

Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis californiana and O. c. canadensis) are iconic ungulates for the ecozone+. In BC, the range of California bighorn sheep is largely restricted to the WIBE. Bighorn sheep are habitat specialists, inhabiting steep, open terrain. Overharvested historically, populations of California bighorn sheep were increasing until 1999 when pneumonia killed 70% of the southern Okanagan population (Figure 51). Footnote 22, Footnote 167 More information can be found in the ESTR technical thematic report Wildlife pathogens and disease in Canada. Footnote 168

Figure 51: California Bighorn Sheep population in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 1900–2008.
Source: data from Demarchi et al., 2000; Footnote 167 BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2011; Footnote 166and BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, unpublished data

graph

Long Description for Figure 51

This line figure shows the following information:

Data for figure 51
1900 - Number of sheep1950 - Number of sheep1970 - Number of sheep1975 - Number of sheep1983 - Number of sheep1993 - Number of sheep1996 - Number of sheep2002 - Number of sheep2004 - Number of sheep2008 - Number of sheep
1350150016501850225030004500283828383460
Carnivores

The North American range of large carnivores retracted as Europeans settled the landscape and persecuted predators (Figure 52). Footnote 169 For example, badgers and wolverine (Gulo gulo) were persecuted, trapped, and, until the 1950s, poisoned by bait intended for wolves. Footnote 170

Grey wolves (Canis lupus) were intentionally killed and possibly extirpated in the WIBE by 1968. Footnote 171 However, wolves have recolonized the Thompson region at a density of 2.8–3.1 per 1,000 km2. Footnote 172 Wolves have also returned to the southern Okanagan, Footnote 173 although their densities are unknown. Wolf populations have also been increasing in the Kootenays, Footnote 174 east of the WIBE.

Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) were extirpated in most of the ecozone+ (Figure 53). Footnote 175Grizzlies are directly affected by disturbance and fragmentation associated with roads and off-road access. Footnote 176 Other large carnivores in the WIBE include lynx (Lynx canadensis), cougars (Puma concolor), and black bears (Ursus americanus).

Figure 52: Reduction in the ranges of large carnivores in North America.
Source: Hummel and Ray, 2008 Footnote 169

map

Long Description for Figure 52

These three maps show the current and historical distribution of three carnivores, which have been reduced to half their previous range. Grey wolves used to cover nearly all of North America and are now primarily restricted to Canada and Alaska. Grizzly bears were distributed throughout western North America and are now in northwestern North America and Alaska. Wolverines were reduced from Canada and northern USA to primarily north central and northwestern Canada.

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Figure 53: Grizzly bear range in BC, 2004.
Source: Grizzly bear range in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 2004. Footnote 177 This information is provided by the Province of BC under the Open Government License for Government of BC Information v.BC1.0.

map

Long Description for Figure 53

This map shows that grizzly bears were extirpated from most of the WIBE. Threatened populations persist along the western part of the ecozone+ and a small section has a viable population in the northeast.

Fish
Coho

Although the species is not listed provincially as a species at risk, the Interior Fraser River population of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) has been ranked as Endangered by COSEWIC since 2002. Footnote 178 The population declined by 60% between 1990 and 2000 (Figure 54) because of habitat changes and overexploitation. Footnote 178

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Figure 54: Estimated total abundance from fishery exploitation rates, escapements, and marine fishery catches of Interior Fraser Coho salmon for the Fraser, Lower Thompson, North Thompson, and South Thompson rivers, 1975–2001.
Data for the Fraser Canyon and Upper Fraser available since 1998.
Source: data from COSEWIC, 2002 Footnote 178 updated from Irvine et al., 2001 Footnote 179

graph

Long Description for Figure 54

This line graph shows the following information:

Data for figure 54
YearSouth Thompson - Estimated total abundanceNorth Thompson - Estimated total abundanceLower Thompson - Estimated total abundance
19751835469754-
19761226864713-
197726572133975-
197825028122364-
197931918149670-
19802198932996-
19811289564524-
198218308132382-
198319392109816-
19844818321769217205
1985532041413495973
1986481863041136511
1987455641185949153
19888480224515013843
198948496864559763
1990326779754217021
1991128964521712619
19926412511891725905
1993150457766769916
19947915177029217
19958261512724509
199610667746454509
19973418112957037
1998532198102828
1999337998015502
2000391972824616
2001142352841810568
Kokanee

Kokanee are sockeye salmon that live and reproduce in lakes. In the WIBE, kokanee were historically harvested by First Nations Footnote 180 and used to support recreational fishing. Okanagan Lake kokanee have two genetically distinct stocks, stream spawners and shore spawners. Footnote 181 Footnote 182 Both stocks declined from over 450,000 spawners each in the early 1970s to fewer than 50,000 shore spawners and fewer than 10,000 stream spawners in the mid- to late 1990s. As a result, the recreational fishery was closed. Footnote 45 In 2011, population estimates were 276,000 shore spawners and 17,700 stream spawners. Footnote 183 Declines have been attributed to decreasing lake productivity due to nutrient reduction initiatives, degraded shoreline habitat due to development, forestry, and recreational activities, drops in lake water levels for flood control, and competition for food with mysis shrimp. Footnote 184 See the Habitat alteration and loss, Nutrient loading to lakes and Invasive aquatic species sections on pages 32, 53, and 48, respectively.

Sockeye

Returns of Okanagan sockeye salmon have fluctuated greatly, from over 200,000 fish in 1967 to fewer than 5,000 in each of 1963, 1994, 1995, and 1998. Precipitous declines in Okanagan sockeye returns in the early to mid-1960s coincided with the construction of five dams on the Columbia River. Footnote 185 Presently, there are nine dams on the Columbia River and as well as the Zosel Dam at the outlet of Osoyoos Lake that block upstream migration of sockeye salmon. In 2009, the McIntyre Dam was modified to allow sockeye to pass. Footnote 58 In 2004, the Okanagan Nation Alliance began an experimental reintroduction program by releasing sockeye fry into Okanagan River upstream of Skaha Lake. Footnote 111, Footnote 186

Steelhead

Steelhead are sea-run rainbow trout that return to freshwater to spawn. Thompson River steelhead have been declining (Figure 55) primarily because of bycatch during commercial salmon fishing. Footnote 187

Figure 55: Thompson River Basin steelhead spawner abundance estimates, 1984–2008.
Source: BC Ministry of Environment, unpublished data

graph

Long Description for Figure 55

This line graph shows the following information:

Data for figure 55
YearSteelhead spawner abundance estimates
19841115
19853514
19862326
19871675
19881500
19891671
19901200
19911200
1992900
19932955
19942660
19952591
19961019
19973000
19981470
19992419
2000835
20011880
20021672
20031344
20041165
20052000
20061800
2007870
20081000
Sturgeon

White sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), the largest freshwater fish in Canada, is ranked as imperilled in BC and Endangered by COSEWIC. Footnote 153 , Footnote 188 One of the six BC populations, the Middle Fraser population, lives in the WIBE where a catch-and-release recreational fishery is permitted. Footnote 189 The Middle Fraser population was estimated at 3,800 adult fish (fish that measured >50 cm from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail) in 2003; population trends are unknown. Footnote 190 White sturgeon are slow growing and slow maturing, so they are particularly vulnerable to overharvesting, habitat degradation and loss, and a developing aquaculture industry. Footnote 190

Plants

The WIBE contains numerous rare and distinctive plants such as alkaline wing-nerved moss (Pterygoneurum kozlovii), Columbian carpet moss (Bryoerythrophyllum columbianum), dwarf woolly-heads (Psilocarphus brevissimus var. brevissimus), Grand Coulee owl-clovers (Orthocarpus barbatus), Lemmon's holly ferns (Polystichum lemmonii), Lyall's mariposa lilies (Calochortus lyallii), Mexican mosquito ferns (Azolla mexicana), mountain holly ferns (Polystichum lonchitis), nugget moss (Microbryum vlassovii), rusty cord-moss (Entosthodon rubiginosus), scarlet ammannias (Ammannia robusta), short-rayed asters (Symphyotrichum frondosum), slender collomias (Collomia tenella), small-flowered lipocarphas, stoloniferous pussytoes (Antennaria flagellaris), and toothcups (Rotala ramosior). Most of these species are provincially and federally listed and more information can be found with their associated recovery plans and strategies.

Key finding 18
Primary productivity

Theme: Habitat, wildlife, and ecosystem processes

National key finding
Primary productivity has increased on more than 20% of the vegetated land area of Canada over the past 20 years, as well as in some freshwater systems. The magnitude and timing of primary productivity are changing throughout the marine system.

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The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), calculated from remote sensing data, indicates the amount and vigour of green vegetation--an indirect measure of primary productivity. Significance of the trend analyses was assessed at the 95% confidence level using the Mann-Kendall test. Footnote 191 From 1985 to 2006, this index increased for 16,713 km2(30.1%) and decreased for 1,035 km2 (1.3%) of the WIBE (Figure 56). The increases were associated with areas of mixed forest and may indicate regeneration following extensive forest harvesting. The decreases were scattered throughout the ecozone+ in areas that were primarily classified as conifer forest. The reasons for the decreases in the WIBE are not known.Footnote12

Figure 56. Trends in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index for the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 1985-2006.
Source: Ahern et al., 2011 Footnote 12

map

Long Description for Figure 56

This map presents trends in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index for the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+. From 1985 to 2006, this index increased for 16,713 km2 (30.1%) and decreased for 1,035 km2 (1.3%) of the WIBE. The increases were associated with areas of mixed forest throughout the ecozone+. The decreases were scattered throughout the central part of the ecozone+ in areas that were primarily classified as conifer forest; the reasons for the decreases in the WIBE are not known.

Key finding 19
Natural disturbance

Theme: Habitat, wildlife, and ecosystem processes

National key finding
The dynamics of natural disturbance regimes, such as fire and native insect outbreaks, are changing and this is reshaping the landscape. The direction and degree of change vary.

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The ecosystems of the WIBE have been shaped by several interacting factors including climate, extensive fires coincident with European settlement, harvesting, fire suppression, and insect attack. Although the nature of disturbance has changed from one largely dominated by fire and insect attack historically to harvesting and insect attack since 1950, the area disturbed annually has not diminished. Footnote 192

Fire

Fire is of fundamental importance to the ecosystems of the WIBE, particularly the Bunchgrass, Ponderosa Pine, and dry portions of the Interior Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zones. Historic natural disturbances were likely diverse and episodic at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Footnote 192 High seasonal and annual variability in weather coupled with lightning strikes in complex topography likely resulted in a mixed-severity disturbance regime. Footnote 192

Large fires as natural disturbance

From the 1960s to the 1990s, there were fewer fires in south-central BC because of vigorous fire protection by the BC Forest Service (Figure 57). Footnote 193 The suppression of normal fire cycles and the subsequent accumulation of woody fuels create an environment for more intense, stand-replacing wildfires. Footnote 194 Footnote 195 Footnote 196 Footnote 197 Fire suppression increases the length of the fire cycle which allows pine stands to age thereby increasing their susceptibility to mountain pine beetle attack. Footnote 198 Footnote 199 Large-scale outbreaks of native insects are discussed on page 81. Fire suppression also allows forests to encroach into grasslands and ponderosa pine forests, Footnote 197 reducing habitat for species that require open landscapes. Footnote 14 In the South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen valleys, conifer densities increased in unburned landscapes between 1938–1985 and 1985–1996. Footnote 195

On average, only 54 km2 (0.1%) of the forested areas burn each year. For 2000–2007, the average area burned by large fires increased to over 156 km2 (Figure 58), Footnote 200 possibly due to changing climate, Footnote 201increased fuel loads due to long-term suppression, Footnote 202, Footnote 203 and a positive interaction between forest fires and the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Footnote 204

Figure 57: Total area burned per decade by large fires (>2 km2 in size) (top) and the distribution of large fires (bottom) in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 1960s–2000s
The value for the 2000s decade was pro-rated over 10 years based on the average from 2000–2007.
Source: Krezek-Hanes et al., 2011 Footnote 200

map

Long Description for Figure 57

The top figure is a bar chart showing the following information:

Data for figure 57
1960s - Area burned (km2)1970s - Area burned (km2)1980s - Area burned (km2)1990s - Area burned (km2)2000s - Area burned (km2)
344.05400.87190.84463.87156.2

The lower figure is a map of area burned by large fires. These fires were spread throughout the WIBE. The large fires in the 2000s were located in the northeast, southwest, and around Kelowna.

Top of Page

Figure 58: Annual area burned by large fires in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+, 1959-2007.
Source: Krezek-Hanes et al., 2011 Footnote 200

graph

Long Description for Figure 58

This bar chart shows the following information:

Data for figure 58
YearArea burned (km2)
19590
1960171
196124
196231
19630
19640
196510
19660
196739
19680
196968
1970148
1971113
19729
197392
197424
19756
19760
19770
19780
19799
19802
19810
19822
19830
198422
1985109
19867
198740
19882
19897
19907
19919
19929
19930
199448
1995148
199672
199717
1998147
19998
200040
200158
200240
2003791
2004122
200533
2006160
20076

Large-scale outbreaks of native insects

Large-scale outbreaks of native insects play a major role in the functioning of ecosystems. Footnote 205 By 1994, about two dozen insect pests, primarily moth and beetle species, had degraded commercially valuable forests and horticultural operations in the WIBE. Footnote 206 In addition, the change in forest cover from tree death and salvage harvesting can increase the flood risk and threaten fisheries and aquatic ecosystems. Footnote 207

The predominant insect pests in the WIBE are mountain pine beetles (Dendroctonus ponderosae) and western spruce budworms (Choristoneura occidentalis), which together accounted for >90% of the insect damage in this ecozone+ in 2009. Footnote 208 Other insects that damage forests in the WIBE are western balsam bark beetles (Dryocetes confusus), spruce beetles (Dendroctonus rufipennis), Douglas-fir tussock moths (Orgyia pseudotsugata), and aspen leaf miners (Phyllocnistis populiella).

Mountain pine beetle

The extent of mountain pine beetles increased between 1999 and 2009 in BC (Figure 59). Specifically, the area affected by mountain pine beetle in the WIBE increased from 500 km2 in 2003 to a peak of 8,100 km2 in 2008 (Figure 60).

Figure 59: Area infested by mountain pine beetle in BC, 1999 and 2009.
Source: data from BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2011 Footnote 209

map

Long Description for Figure 59

These maps show cumulative percentage of areas of killed pines in 1999 and 2009 throughout BC. In 1999, most of the mountain pine beetle infestation was in the central part of the province, with some outbreaks in the WIBE. This expanded throughout the province substantially in 2009, as well as increased infestations in the WIBE.

Top of Page

Figure 60: Area of forest affected by mountain pine beetle in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ and all of BC, 1975–2009.
"Low" includes both "Trace" and "Light" areas.
Source: Analysis based on data from the BC Ministry of Forests and Range, 2010 Footnote 208 and the National
Forestry Database, 2010 Footnote 210

graph

Long Description for Figure 60

This stacked bar chart shows the following information:

YearWestern Interior Basin - Low
Area affected (km2)
Western Interior Basin - Moderate
Area affected (km2)
Western Interior Basin - Severe
Area affected (km2)
BC total
1975000300
1976000440
1977000600
1978000780
1979000690
19800001,540
19810001,600
19820002,900
19830004,620
19840004,620
19850003,000
1986000940
1987000660
1988000630
1989000530
1990000414
1991000496
1992000448
1993000491
199400032
1995000400
1996000560
1997000-
1998000-
1999191137371,646
200011981142,840
2001145102627,855
20021771355619,686
20032431868640,668
20041,32857139570,219
20053,0391,373072687,361
20063,0442,1641,50892,434
20073,8912,5211,584100,519
20085,4302,12161378,420
20093,8171,49936689,534
Western spruce budworm

Western spruce budworms favour dry, low-elevation Douglas-fir zones and therefore the majority of their BC range is in the WIBE (Figure 61). Annual defoliation by spruce budworm in the WIBE increased to peak of 3,800 km2 in 2007 (Figure 62). Most of the defoliation was considered low or moderate. Footnote 208

Figure 61: Areas of the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ defoliated by western spruce budworm in 2008.
Source: data from BC Ministry of Forests and Range, 2010 Footnote 208

map

Long Description for Figure 61

This map shows low, moderate, and severe areas in the WIBE defoliated by western spruce budworm in 2008. Most of the areas with low defoliation were scattered throughout the ecozone+. Moderate areas occurred along the north central border and southwestern parts of the ecozone+. There were no areas of severe defoliation.

Figure 62: Area of forest defoliated by western spruce budworm in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ and all of BC, 1999–2009.
"Low" includes both "Trace" and "Light" areas.
Source: analysis based on data from the BC Ministry of Forests and Range, 2010 Footnote 208

graph

Long Description for Figure 62

This stacked bar chart shows the following information:

YearWestern Interior Basin - Low
Area affected (km2)
Western Interior Basin - Moderate
Area affected (km2)
Western Interior Basin - Severe
Area affected (km2)
BC Total
199960012
200014150147
2001231801,236
20021,6685774,874
20038625065,222
200475613636,237
200585918914,640
20061,8291,497327,769
20073,190598138,473
20083,2584507,822
20092,590829187,661
Western balsam bark beetle

Western balsam bark beetles attack true firs in the genus Abies, which grow at mid- to high elevations. Figure 63 shows the area of forest affected annually by western balsam bark beetle from 1999 to 2009 in the WIBE and in BC overall. Most forest affected by balsam bark beetles is in the cooler Montane Cordillera Ecozone+ to the north and east of the WIBE. This insect tends to affect the same stands year after year with chronic, low-level, scattered attacks. Footnote 211

Top of Page

Figure 63: Area of forest affected by the western balsam bark beetle in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ and all of BC, 1999–2009.
"Low" includes both "Trace" and "Light" areas.
Source: analysis based on data from the BC Ministry of Forests and Range, 2010 Footnote 208

graph

Long Description for Figure 63

This stacked bar chart shows the following information:

YearWestern Interior Basin - Low
Area affected (km2)
Western Interior Basin - Moderate
Area affected (km2)
Western Interior Basin - Severe
Area affected (km2)
BC Total
199983606,074
20001081205,588
200114614110,727
20021194309,905
200313823013,903
200423426120,176
20056214118,463
20067424011,942
20076738015,647
2008576105,321
20096334017,277
Spruce beetle

Spruce beetles (or spruce bark beetles) account for a relatively small proportion of insect damage in the WIBE, but areas affected by spruce beetles in the WIBE are not consistent with provincial trends. In BC, spruce beetle peaked in 2003 and then declined; in the WIBE, the area affected has continued to increase (Figure 64). The WIBE's proportion of the total area damaged in BC increased from 0.1% in 1999 to 47% in 2009. Footnote 211

Figure 64: Area of forest by the spruce beetle in the Western Interior Basin Ecozone+ and all of BC, 1999–2009.
"Low" includes both "Trace" and "Light" areas.
Source: analysis based on data from the BC Ministry of Forests and Range, 2010 Footnote 208

graph

Long Description for Figure 64

This stacked bar chart shows the following information:

YearWestern Interior Basin - Low
Area affected (km2)
Western Interior Basin - Moderate
Area affected (km2)
Western Interior Basin - Severe
Area affected (km2)
BC Total
1999214506
20001221,060
200111831,060
200213502,690
2003181013,159
200492591,048
200520193556
200623444837
2007225216368
200845336279
2009227614308

Key finding 20
Food webs

Theme: Habitat, wildlife, and ecosystem processes Food webs

National key finding
Fundamental changes in relationships among species have been observed in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. The loss or reduction of important components of food webs has greatly altered some ecosystems.

Top of Page

Non-native invasive species disrupt food webs by consuming, destroying, or otherwise removing food sources for native species. Introduced to Okanagan Lake in 1966, non-native mysis shrimp facilitated declines of kokanee and rainbow trout by consuming cladoceran zooplankton, a shared food resource. Footnote 45 Due to their diurnal migration pattern, mysis shrimp are rarely preyed upon by fish, so they effectively have no predators in the lake. More information can be found about mysis shrimp in the Invasive aquatic species section on page 48 and about Kokanee on page 76.

Predator-prey dynamics can be disrupted when the abundances of multiple prey species change. That is, less common prey species ("alternate prey") such as mountain goats can decline when there are shifts in the abundance of a primary prey species, such as deer. In the mid-1990s, poor winters resulted in mule deer populations that were half their previous size. Cougars may have preyed upon mountain goats as an alternate food source, which reduced the mountain goat population. Footnote 212 Since cougars and mule deer have returned to their previous population sizes, mountain goats have gradually been increasing again although recovery has been slow due to their relatively late reproductive maturity. Footnote 213

Top of Page


Content Footnote

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Footnote 22

Demarchi, R.A. 2000. Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in accounts and measures for managing identified wildlife: accounts version 2004. British Columbia Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. Victoria, BC. 19 p.

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Footnote 45

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Footnote 49

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Footnote 58

Alex, K. 2010. Providing fish passage at McIntyre Dam. Bilateral Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group Meeting. 24 February, 2010. Penticton, BC. Meeting presentation.

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Footnote 111

Rae, R. 2005. The state of fish and fish habitat in the Okanagan and Similkameen basins. Canadian Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group. Westbank, BC. 125 p.

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Footnote 142

Provincial Agricultural Land Commission. 2009. Business plan 2009/10. Provincial Agricultural Land Commisison. Burnaby, BC. 21 p.

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Footnote 143

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Footnote 144

McConkey, B.G., Lobb, D.A., Li, S., Black, J.M.W. and Krug, P.M. 2011. Soil erosion on cropland: introduction and trends for Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 16. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. iv + 22 p.

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Footnote 145

Pitt, M. and Hooper, T.D. 1994. Threats to biodiversity of grasslands in British Columbia. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. Chapter 20. pp. 279-292.

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Footnote 146

Marsh, J., Nouvet, S., Sanborn, P. and Coxson, D. 2006. Composition and function of biological soil crust communities along topographic gradients in grasslands of central interior British Columbia (Chilcotin) and southwestern Yukon (Kluane). Botany 84:717-736.

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Footnote 147

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Footnote 148

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Footnote 151

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Footnote 152

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Footnote 156

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Footnote 157

Ritter, S. 2000. Idaho bird conservation plan. Version 1.0. Idaho Partners in Flight. Hamilton, MT. 167 p.

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Footnote 158

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Footnote 159

Lance, A.N. and Phinney, M. 2001. Bird responses to partial retention timber harvesting in central interior British Columbia. Forest Ecology and Management 142:267-280.

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Footnote 160

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Footnote 161

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Footnote 162

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Footnote 163

Burrowing Owl Recovery Implementation Group. 2008. Action plan for the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) in British Columbia. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Victoria, BC. 21 p.

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Footnote 164

COSEPAC. 2000. Évaluation et Rapport de situation du COSEPAC sur le Moqueur des armoises (Oreoscoptes montanus) au Canada. Comité sur la situation des espèces en péril au Canada. Ottawa, ON. ix+30 p.

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Footnote 165

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Footnote 166

BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 2011. BC ungulate species regional population estimates and status [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

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Demarchi, R.A., C.L.Hartwig and D.A.Demarchi. 2000. Status of the California bighorn sheep in British Columbia. Wildlife Bulletin No. B-98. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Victoria, BC. 67 p.

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Footnote 168

Leighton, F.A. 2011. Wildlife pathogens and diseases in Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 7. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. iv + 53 p.

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Footnote 169

Hummel, M. and Ray, J.C. 2008. Caribou and the north: a shared future. Dundurn Press. Timmins, ON. 287 p.

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Footnote 170

Hatler, D.F., Nagorsen, D.W. and Beal, A.M. 2008. Volume 5: the carnivores of British Columbia. Royal BC Museum Handbook: The Mammals of British Columbia. Royal BC Museum. Victoria, BC. 407 p.

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Footnote 171

Tompa, F.S. 1983. Status and management of wolves in British Columbia. In Wolves in Canada and Alaska: their status, biology, and management. Edited by Carbyn, L.N. Canadian Wildlife Service Report 45. Ottawa, ON. pp. 20-29.

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Footnote 172

Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 2012. Draft management plan for the grey wolf (Canis lupus) in British Columbia. 60 p.

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Footnote 173

Harris, B. 2013. Wolf sightings and reports 2004-2011. Unpublished data.

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Footnote 174

Mowat, G. 2007. Large carnivore population review for the Kootenay region. British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Kootenay Region. Nelson, BC. 32 p.

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Footnote 175

BC Ministry of Environment. 2010. Grizzly bear hunting: frequently asked questions [online].British Columbia Ministry of Environment.

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Footnote 176

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Footnote 177

BC Ministry of Environment. 2013. Grizzly bear population units [online]. (accessed 14 March, 2013).

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Footnote 178

COSEPAC. 2002. Évaluation et Rapport de situation du COSEPAC sur le saumon coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) (population du Fraser intérieur) au Canada. Comité sur la situation des espèces en péril au Canada. Ottawa, ON. viii + 39 p.

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Footnote 179

Irvine, J.R., Parken, C.K., Chen, D.G., Candy, J., Ming, T., Supernault, J., Shaw, W. and Bailey, R.E. 2001. 2001 Stock status assessment of coho salmon from the interior Fraser River. Research Document No. 2001/083. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat. Ottawa, ON. 67 p.

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Footnote 180

Hewes, G.W. 1998. Fishing. In Handbook of North American Indians: volume 12: plateau. Edited by Walker D.E. Smithsonian Institute. Washington, DC. pp. 620-640.

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Footnote 181

Pollard, S. 2000. Review and conclusions of assessments to genetically discriminate between stream and beach spawning kokanee in Okanagan Lake. In Okanagan Lake Action Plan Year 4 (1999) Report. Fisheries Project Report No. RD 83. Edited by Andrusak, H., Sebastian, D., McGregor, I., Matthews, S., Smith, D., Ashley, K., Pollard, S., Scholten, G., Stockner, J., Ward, P., Kirk, R., Lasenby, D., Webster, J., Whall, J., Wilson, A.G. and Yassien, H. British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. Victoria, BC. pp. 248-258.

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Footnote 182

Withler, R. 2005. Microsatellite analysis of stream and beach spawning kokanee. In Okanagan Lake action plan, year 9 (2004) report. Edited by Andrusak, H., Matthews, S., McGregor, I., Ashley, K., Rae, R., Wilson, A., Webster, J., Andrusak, G., Vidmanic, L., Stockner, J., Sebastian, D., Scholten, G., Woodruff, P., Jantz, B., Bennett, D., Wright, H., Withler, R. and Harris, S. BC Ministry of Environment. Victoria, BC. pp. 327-334.

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Footnote 183

Askey, P. 2011. BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Unpublished data.

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Footnote 184

Shepherd, B.G. 2000. A case history: The kokanee stocks of Okanagan Lake. In Proceedings of a Conference on the Biology and Management of Species and Habitats at Risk, Kamloops, Feb 15-19, 1999. Edited by Darling, L.M. British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. Victoria, BC. Vol. 2, pp. 609-616.

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Footnote 185

Hyatt, K. and Rankin, P. 1999. A habitat based evaluation of Okanagan sockeye salmon escapement objectives. Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat Research Document No. 99/191. Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Ottawa, ON. 59 p.

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Footnote 186

Okanagan National Alliance. 2010. Okanagan sockeye reintroduction program [online]. (accessed 23 March, 2012).

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Footnote 187

Slaney, T.L., Hyatt, K.D., Northcote, T.G. and Fielden, R.J. 1996. Status of anadromous salmon and trout in British Columbia and Yukon. Fisheries 21:20-35.

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Footnote 188

COSEWIC. 2003. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa, ON. vii + 51 p.

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Footnote 189

BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 2011. 2011-2013 Freshwater fishing regulations synopsis [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations.(accessed 23 March, 2012).

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Footnote 190

Ptolemy, J. and Vennesland, R. Update COSEWIC status report on the white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus in Canada, in COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the white sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus, in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Ottawa, ON. 51 p.

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Footnote 191

Pouliot, D., Latifovic, R. and Olthof, I. 2009. Trends in vegetation NDVI from 1 km Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data over Canada for the period 1985-2006. International Journal of Remote Sensing 30:149-168.

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Footnote 192

Klenner, W., Walton, R., Arsenault, A. and Kremsater, L. 2008. Dry forests in the southern interior of British Columbia: historic disturbances and implications for restoration and management. Forest Ecology and Management 256:1711-1722.

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Footnote 193

Stocks, B.J., Mason, J.A., Todd, J.B., Bosch, E.M., Wotton, B.M., Amiro, B.D., Flannigan, M.D., Hirsch, K.G., Logan, K.A., Martell, D.L. and Skinner, W.R. 2003. Large forest fires in Canada, 1959-1997. Journal of Geophysical Research 108:8149-8161.

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Footnote 194

BC Ministry of Forests and Range. 1995. Biodiversity guidebook. Forest Practices Code Guidebook [online]. BC Ministry of Forests and Range, Government of British Columbia. (accessed 3 March, 2011).

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Footnote 195

Turner, J.S. and Krannitz, P.G. 2001. Conifer density increases in semi-desert habitats of British Columbia in the absence of fire. Northwest Science 75:176-182.

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Footnote 196

Turner, N.J. 1999. "Time to burn": traditional use of fire to enhance resource production by aboriginal peoples in British Columbia. In Indians, fire and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Edited by Boyd, R. Oregon State University Press. Corvallis, OR. pp. 185-218.

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Footnote 197

Gayton, D.V. 1996. Fire-maintained ecosystems and the effects of forest ingrowth. British Columbia Ministry of Forests. Nelson, BC. 4 p.

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Footnote 198

Taylor, S.W. and Carroll, A.L. 2004. Disturbance, forest age, and mountain pine beetle outbreak dynamics in BC: a historical perspective. In Mountain pine beetle symposium: challenges and solutions.October 30-31, 2003, Kelowna, British Columbia. Edited by Shore, T.L., Brooks, J.E. and Stone, J.E. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre. Victoria, BC. pp. 41-51.

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Footnote 199

Li, C., Barclay, H.J., Hawkes, B.C. and Taylor, S.W. 2005. Lodgepole pine forest age class dynamics and susceptibility to mountain pine beetle attack. Ecological Complexity 2:232-239.

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Footnote 200

Krezek-Hanes, C.C., Ahern, F., Cantin, A. and Flannigan, M.D. 2011. Trends in large fires in Canada, 1959-2007. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 6. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. v + 48 p.

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Footnote 201

Volney, W.J.A. and Hirsch, K.G. 2005. Disturbing forest disturbances. The Forestry Chronicle 81:662-668.

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Footnote 202

Allen, E. 2001. Forest health assessment in Canada. Ecosystem Health 7:27-34.

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Footnote 203

Parker, T.J., Clancy, K.M. and Mathlasen, R.L. 2006. Interactions among fire, insects and pathogens in coniferous forests of the interior western United States and Canada. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 8:167-189.

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Footnote 204

Jenkins, M.J., Hebertson, E., Page, W. and Jorgensen, C.A. 2008. Bark beetles, fuels, fires and implications for forest management in the intermountain west. Forest Ecology and Management 254:16-34.

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Footnote 205

McCullough, D.G., Werner, R.A. and Neumann, D. 1998. Fire and insects in northern and boreal forest ecosystems of North America. Annual Review of Entomology 43:107-127.

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Footnote 206

Harding, L.E. 1994. Threats to diversity of forest ecosystems in British Columbia. In Biodiversity in British Columbia: our changing environment. Edited by Harding, L.E. and McCullum, E. Environment Canada. Delta, BC. Chapter 19. pp. 245-278.

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Footnote 207

Schnorbus, M., Bennett, K. and Werner, A. 2010. Quantifying the water resource impacts of mountain pine beetle and associated salvage harvest operations across a range of watershed scales: hydrologic modelling of the Fraser River Basin. Information Report: BC-X-423. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific Forestry Centre. Victoria, BC. 64 p.

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Footnote 208

BC Ministry of Forests and Range. 2010. Forest health - 2008 aerial overview survey [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range. (accessed 25 January, 2010). Survey data spatial files.

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Footnote 209

BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 2011. Observed percentage of pine volume killed in 2009 (red and grey attack) [online]. British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range. (accessed 9 February, 2012).

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Footnote 210

National Forestry Database. 2010. Forest insects - quick facts. Areas within which moderate to severe defoliation occurs including area of beetle-killed trees by insects and province/territory, 1975-2009: mountain pine beetle [online]. Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. (accessed May, 2010).

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Footnote 211

Westfall, J. and Ebata, T. 2008. 2008 summary of forest health conditions in British Columbia. BC Ministry of Forests and Range. Victoria, BC. 85 p.

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Footnote 212

Côté, S.D. and Festa-Bianchet, M. 2003. Mountain goat. In Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and conservation. Edited by Feldhamer, G.A., Thompson, B. and Chapman, J. The John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD. pp. 1061-1075.

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Footnote 213

Mountain Goat Management Team. 2010. Management plan for the mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) in British Columbia. Prepared for the BC Ministry of Environment. Victoria, BC. 87 p.

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Footnote 214

Vaughan, H., Brydges, T., Fenech, A. and Lumb, A. 2001. Monitoring long-term ecological changes through the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network: science-based and policy relevant. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 67:3-28.

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Theme: Science/Policy Interface

Key finding 21
Biodiversity monitoring, research, information management, and reporting

Theme: Science/policy interface

National key finding
Long-term, standardized, spatially complete, and readily accessible monitoring information, complemented by ecosystem research, provides the most useful findings for policy-relevant assessments of status and trends. The lack of this type of information in many areas has hindered development of this assessment.

Top of Page

Monitoring programs and research studies have provided information on ecosystem status and trends for the WIBE, however, much of this information was not long-term, standardized, or spatially complete. Monitoring and research were unevenly distributed, with substantially more information available in the South Okanagan than in the west and northwest of the ecozone+. To determine trends in ecosystem processes, methods and analyses must be consistent through time and the results should be publicly accessible. Footnote 214 The maintenance and management of information can be a challenge, although excellent "clearing house" tools exist such as the BC government's Cross-Linked Information Resources (CLIR) that allows users to search for environmental and natural resource information.

Frequently, status or trends must be pieced together from a variety of sources and/or methods. Often, only a patchwork of data can be reported. Ecozone+-wide data is not always available as the boundaries of a particular monitoring program may not match the boundaries of the ecozone+. This may be less of a problem for the WIBE than with other ecozones+because WIBE boundaries are those of the Southern Interior Ecoprovince. Nevertheless, some datasets do not report data by ecoprovince.

Gaps

  • Traditional and local ecological knowledge are rarely incorporated into monitoring programs.
  • There is little information and no regular monitoring of contaminants in wildlife, despite the amount of agricultural activity in the WIBE where potential contaminants may be in use.
  • Ecosystem services have not been systematically quantified for the WIBE.
  • Although many stewardship groups and organizations are active in the WIBE, their contributions have not been quantified, so it is difficult to assess the impacts of stewardship.

Notable initiatives

Key finding 22
Rapid change and thresholds

Theme: Science/policy interface

National key finding
Growing understanding of rapid and unexpected changes, interactions, and thresholds, especially in relation to climate change, points to a need for policy that responds and adapts quickly to signals of environmental change in order to avert major and irreversible biodiversity losses.

Top of Page

Several of the key findings in this report include evidence or early-warning indications of environmental change that could lead to major and irreversible losses of biodiversity:


Content Footnote

Footnote 214

Vaughan, H., Brydges, T., Fenech, A. and Lumb, A. 2001. Monitoring long-term ecological changes through the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network: science-based and policy relevant. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 67:3-28.

Return to Footnote 214 référence

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Conclusion: Human Well-Being and BioDiversity

Many of the WIBE's ecosystem challenges are driven by continued human population growth, land conversion, and land fragmentation. The WIBE is an ecologically unique area of Canada due to its species richness and the significant number of species that occur nowhere else in the country. As the northern extent of the Great Basin Desert, the WIBE is an especially important corridor (and a potential bottleneck if poorly managed) for the northward migration of species as the climate changes.

In the biodiverse southern Okanagan, considerable human/ecosystem interactions have occurred with conversion of the original landscape to urban and agricultural areas. Some types of agriculture are more compatible with ecosystem processes and so pressures to transfer land out of the Agricultural Land Reserve are another threat to ecosystems and biodiversity. In addition, land fragmentation, habitat alteration, and the introduction of invasive species have increased the vulnerability of ecosystems and their capacity to provide ecosystem services.

The growing human population will continue to put pressure on surface water ecosystems that provide irrigation and drinking water. Climate change also threatens water availability in this already water scarce area. This threat will be particularly acute at certain times of year, such as the summer and fall when climate-induced shifts in stream flow result in reduced water availability during seasons when water needs for agricultural are the greatest.

Many of the animals present in the WIBE are iconic species for BC with high value to First Nations for food and ceremonial activities. BC residents also value the animals of the WIBE for wildlife viewing, angling, and hunting. Several large mammal populations are stable but many bird and fish populations are in serious decline. In some instances, there is also cause for optimism as conservation and restoration efforts improve habitat conditions in an effort to reverse these declines.

Despite the impacts of human modifications, some parts of the WIBE remain relatively natural and intact, especially in the west and northwest of the ecozone+. Protected areas have increased in number and area over the past 70 years and provide valuable cultural services as well as habitat conservation. However, the distinct Interior Dry Plateau natural region lacks federal protection.

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