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THEME 3: HABITAT, WILDLIFE, AND ECOSYSTEM PROCESSES

The key findings in this section are related to aspects of abundance and diversity of wildlife. First, the capacity of agricultural lands to support wildlife is considered. Trends are then assessed for selected species groups of high economic, cultural, or ecological significance. Three aspects of ecosystem processes are examined: primary productivity, relations of predators and prey through food webs and population cycles, and the role of natural disturbance in forested ecosystems.

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KEY FINDINGS

16. Agricultural landscapes as habitat 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 loss of natural and semi-natural land cover.

17. Species of special interest: economic, cultural, or ecological 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.

18. Primary productivity 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.

19. Natural disturbances 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.

20. Food webs 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.