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Arctic Ecozone+ Status and Trends Assessment

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J. Eamer,Footnote 1 G. Henry,Footnote 2 A. Gunn,Footnote 3 and L. HardingFootnote 4

Canadian Biodiversity:
Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010

Technical Ecozone+ Report

Document Information

Cover photo

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Arctic Ecozone+ status and trends assessment.

Issued also in French under title:
Évaluation de l’état et des tendences de l’écozone+ de l’Arctique.
Electronic monograph in PDF format.
ISBN 978-0-660-23433-5
Cat. no.: En14-43/01-1-2014E-PDF

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This report should be cited as:

Eamer, J., Henry, G., Gunn, A and Harding L. 2014. Arctic Ecozone+ Ecozone+ Status and Trends Assessment. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Ecozone+ Report. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers, Ottawa, ON. xii + 260 pp. Technical Reports

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

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The Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers developed a Biodiversity Outcomes Framework (Environment Canada, 2006) in 2006 to focus conservation and restoration actions under the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy (Federal-Provincial-Territorial Biodiversity Working Group, 1995). Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010 (Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada, 2010) was the 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 Technical Ecozone+ Reports). 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) (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Ecosystem status and trends (ESTR) report series

This report is the technical report for the Arctic Ecozone+ (Figure 2 and Figure 3) which includes all or portions of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. A range of authors and reviewers contributed to the report from government, academia, non-governmental, and consulting sectors. No claim is made that the information presented is exhaustive. 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.

Information about the broader ESTR project and its other reporting products is available at: Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010.

Sources of information for this report include research results published in books, scientific journals, and government reports, and records from monitoring and management-related studies. Information from experts is also included (as personal communications) for some subjects when, for example, study results have not yet been published. An important source of information throughout this report is the series of thematic reports prepared for the ESTR. In most cases, these reports are national in scope, with status and trends synthesized both nationally and by ecozone+. The reports include analyses of specific datasets, set in the context of the broader scientific literature. In this report, the thematic reports are summarized and discussed in terms of the Arctic Ecozone+. Key trend analyses are reproduced. Note, however, that analyses in the thematic reports cover a range of dates and have not been updated. This report also draws on summaries and features prepared for the main ESTR report Canadian biodiversity: Ecosystem status and trends 2010 (Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada, 2010) and on Arctic Council’s Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (CAFF, 2013),  a source of information on Canadian Arctic biodiversity and on the circumpolar context of status and trends.

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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 (Ecological Stratification Working Group, 1995), provided the ecosystem-based units for all reports related to this project (Figure 2). 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 (Rankin et al., 2011).

Figure 2. Canada's ecozones+.
Long description for Ecological classification system – ecozones+

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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The southern boundary of the Arctic Ecozone+ corresponds with the northern edge of the boreal forest. Adjustments to the Taiga Shield/Arctic boundary, based on ground-truthing, were made in the ecozone+ classification. As noted above, three Arctic terrestrial ecozones were combined into the Arctic Ecozone+. This is a vast and diverse ecozone+ and the original three Arctic ecozones represent distinct ecological units. Where appropriate they are discussed separately and referred to as the Southern Arctic, Northern Arctic, and Arctic Cordillera regions of the Arctic Ecozone+.

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Lead authors
J. Eamer, G. Henry, A. Gunn and L. Harding
Contributing authors
R. Brown, S. Carrière, B. Collins, S. Elmendorf, G. Gauthier, J. Goulet, C. Haas, E. Jacobsen, J. Paquet, T. Prowse, A. Shabbar, R. Smith and L. Toretti
Authors of ESTR Thematic Technical Reports from which material is drawn
Ecological classification system for the ecosystem status and trends report: R. Rankin, M. Austin, and J. Rice
Guidance for the preparation of ESTR products – classifying threats to biodiversity: C. Wong
Guidance for the preparation of ESTR products – land classification scheme: J. Frisk
Large-scale climate oscillations influencing Canada, 1900–2008: B. Bonsal and A. Shabbar
Canadian climate trends, 1950–2007: X. Zhang, R. Brown, L. Vincent, W. Skinner, Y. Feng, and E. Mekis
Wildlife pathogens and diseases in Canada: F.A. Leighton
Trends in permafrost conditions and ecology in northern Canada: S. Smith
Northern caribou population trends in Canada: A. Gunn, D. Russell, and J. Eamer
Landbird trends in Canada, 1968–2006: C. Downes, P. Blancher, and B. Collins
Trends in Canadian shorebirds: C. Gratto-Trevor, R.I.G. Morrison, B. Collin, J. Rausch, M. Drever, and V. Johnston
Monitoring biodiversity remotely: a selection of trends measured from satellite observations of Canada: F. Ahern, J. Frisk, R. Latifovic, and D. Pouliot
Biodiversity in Canadian lakes and rivers: W.A. Monk and D.J. Baird

Review conducted by scientists and renewable resource and wildlife managers from relevant territorial and federal government agencies through a review process recommended by the ESTR Steering Committee. Additional reviews of specific sections conducted by university researchers in their field of expertise at the request of the authors. Peer review of the final draft coordinated by the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution. The report was greatly improved by the reviews of D. Berteaux, P. Hale, and one anonymous reviewer.

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, J. Eamer, M. Osmond-Jones, P. Lilley, K. Badger, E. Jacobsen, and M. Connolly.

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

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Footnote 1

Environment Canada (to 2011); current: SLR Consulting (Canada) Ltd., 200-1620 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

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Footnote 2

Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

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Footnote 3

368 Roland Road, Salt Spring Island, BC

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Footnote 4

SciWrite, 2339 Sumpter Drive, Coquitlam, BC

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