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Boreal Shield and Newfoundland Boreal ecozones+ evidence for key findings summary

Theme: Biomes

Forests

Key finding 1
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.

Boreal Shield Ecozone+

Most of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ is boreal forest, but the ecozone+ also includes temperate forests in the south. As of 2005, 88% of the ecozone was covered by forest. Forest composition, age structure, and both biotic and abiotic drivers vary widely across the vast expanse of the ecozone+. For example, fire is a major disturbance and driver of both forest composition and age class in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ as a whole, but fire return intervals vary from 125 to 600 years between the west and the east.Footnote37 Forestry is also a major industry in Ontario and Quebec, and less so in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Forests were converted to cropland in the southwestern portion of the ecozone+ between 1985 and 2006.Footnote23 These changes were insignificant at the ecozone+ scale and the general extent of forested ecosystems was unchanged, however, the composition and structure of managed forests has changed.Footnote38 Footnote39 Footnote40

The shift from conifer to broad-leaved deciduous forest and shrub may have been facilitated by natural regeneration.Footnote40 Footnote41 Footnote42 Natural regeneration of cutovers was standard practice in central Canada from the 1920s to the mid-1970s and continues to be a common approach.Footnote43 The failure of natural regeneration resulted in re-planting programs from the 1970s until 2009.Footnote44,Footnote45 

Forest composition and structure is tracked by provincial natural resource and environment departments; therefore, the following data and discussion are based on provincial divisions with additional ecozone+- and ecoregion-level summaries where possible. Figure 6 and Figure 7 illustrate the areas of forests that are managed in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, as well as the ecoregion boundaries that were defined from the National Ecological Framework for Canada.Footnote9

Figure 6. Map of managed forests Saskatchewan and Manitoba portions of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.

Manitoba areas shown are forest management units. Managed forests in Saskatchewan include forests south of the northern reconnaissance area for which inventory data exist. Ecoregion boundaries are shown for context.

map
Source: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment – Forestry Service Branch, unpublished data and Manitoba Conservation, Forestry Branch, Forest Management Licenses, unpublished dataFootnote38

Long Description for Figure 6

This map shows managed forests in the Saskatchewan and Manitoba portions of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. From North to South, beginning in Saskatchewan, the Athabasca Plain ecoregion shows no managed forests, and the Churchill River Upland shows <50% managed forests. Manitoba areas shown are forest management units, and from North to South represent Churchill River (100% managed), Highrock (100% managed), Nelson River (100% managed), Hayes River Upland (unmanaged), Hayes River (100% managed), Lake Winnepeg East (100% managed), Lac Seul Upland (unmanaged), Pineland (100% managed), and Lake of the Woods (unmanaged).

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Figure 7. Map of managed forests in Ontario and Quebec portions of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.

The term"managed forests" refers to areas where inventory data exist. Ontario forest regions and Quebec forest domains are shown for context.

map
Source: Ministère des Ressources naturelles, 2005Footnote46

Long Description for Figure 7

This map shows managed forests in the Ontario, Quebec, and Labrador portions of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. Ontario forest regions and Quebec forest domains are shown. The Ontario regions are Great Lakes-St. Lawrence (>50% managed), Boreal (approximately 50% managed), and Hudson Bay (&lt;50% managed). The Quebec domains include Sugar maple-bitternut hickory (>50% managed), Sugar maple-basswood West (>50% managed), Sugar maple-yellow birch (West: >50% managed and East: >50% managed), Balsam fir-yellow birch (West: >50% managed and East: >50% managed), Balsam fir-white birch (West: >50% managed and East: >50% managed) and Spruce-moss (West:>50% managed and East: approximately 50% managed). The Labrador ecoregions include Lake Melville (unmanaged), Mecatina Plateau (unmanaged), and Paradise River (>50% managed).

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The most common natural disturbance in the western Boreal Shield Ecozone+ is fire. The lack of fire suppression has resulted in a relatively natural fire regime, especially in the Saskatchewan portion of the ecozone+ where there are few anthropogenic stressors on the system.Footnote47 Forestry operations are limited to 340,000 km2 along the southern boundary of the Churchill River Upland EcoregionFootnote48 and less than 10 km2 per year is harvested.Footnote49 Approximately 76% of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in Saskatchewan is forested.Footnote50 In Manitoba, forest management has resulted in a decrease in jack pine (Pinus banksiana), black spruce (Picea mariana), and white spruce (Picea glauca) and an increase in other pines, balsam fir (Abies balsamea), other conifers and other hardwoods from the 1970s to the 1990s (e.g., Figure 8).

Figure 8. Area of tree species cover type within the Pineland forest section in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

graph
Source: Manitoba Conservation - Forestry Branch, Manitoba Forest Inventory, unpublished dataFootnote38

Long Description for Figure 8

This bar graph shows the following information:

Data for figure 8
Type1970s1980s1990s
Jack Pine989.0907.5823.0
Other Pine16.935.162.8
Spruce1,766.71,849.71,505.4
Balsam Fir13.757.3115.7
Other Conifer531.2909.5852.1
Poplar2,150.82,133.42,030.4
White Birch32.825.433.3
Other Hardwoods6.039.993.9

Area of cover type (km2

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Natural disturbances of the eastern boreal forest of Canada include fire,47, Footnote51 insect outbreaks,Footnote52 and windthrow,Footnote53 with fire having the most widespread influence at regional scales.Footnote54 Fire regimes (frequency, size, intensity, seasonality, fire type, and severity) have a significant influence on the age structure of boreal landscapes and the structure and composition of stands.Footnote55 Footnote56 Footnote57 Footnote58 In the eastern Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 30% of the forested area is dominated by dense coniferous forests, 13% is mixed conifer and deciduous forests, and 35% is considered sparse forest.Footnote59 There is relatively little human disturbance, but these forests are likely to be affected by climate change with potential increases in fire frequency and extent and changes in species distributions.Footnote59

The Ontario boreal forest region covers approximately 500,000 km2, 82% of which is forested.Footnote60 Conifer-dominated stands, especially stands dominated by spruce, have been converted to mixed and deciduous-dominated stands post-harvest in Ontario (Figure 9) and Quebec (Figure 10).Footnote39 , Footnote40 , Footnote61 Spruce regeneration is fire-dependent, hence, the absence of fire leads to reduced regeneration of spruce and increases in hardwood species or other conifers.Footnote62 Although conifers are planted post-harvest, softwood regeneration is not always successful.Footnote39 , Footnote42 , Footnote44 , Footnote63

Figure 9. Change in proportions of tree species composition groups after harvest in 1522 plots throughout the Boreal Forest Region of Ontario between 1970-1985 and 1990 (5 to 20 years after cutting).

graph
Source: adapted from Hearden et al., 1992Footnote40

Long Description for Figure 9

This bar graph shows the following information:

Change in proportions of tree species composition groups after harvest in 1522 plots throughout the Boreal Forest Region of Ontario between 1970-1985 and 1990 (5 to 20 years after cutting).
TypeOriginal
(1970-1985)
After regeneration (1990)
Mixed softwoods2921
Spruce184
Jack pine1015
Hardwood619
Mixedwood3641

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Figure 10. Proportional area by cover types of the spruce-moss east subdomain in Quebec.

graph
Source: Ministère des Ressources naturelles, 2002Footnote61

Long Description for Figure 10

This bar graph shows the following information:

Proportional area by cover types of the spruce-moss east subdomain in Quebec.
typeProportional area (%)
1970-79
Proportional area (%)
1980-89
Proportional area (%)
1990-99
Conifer848075
Mixed9109
Deciduous211
Regeneration4915

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The majority of harvesting activities on Ontario’s Crown forest takes place in the Boreal and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest regions.Footnote45 In 2009–2010, there were 852 active clearcut harvest areas in the Boreal Forest Region (Figure 7). Of these clearcuts, 826 (97%) were less than 2.6 km2. The average clearcut size was 0.6 km2 and the maximum clearcut was 14.2 km2.Footnote45 The age class distribution of the forest is an important indicator of changing ecosystem processes. Forest stands are recorded in the 0–20 age class until a renewal treatment has been prescribed. This includes the activities of site preparation and regeneration to promote the establishment of desired forest stands, and the stand has been declared free-to-grow, meaning that the stands meet growth criteria and are essentially free from competing vegetation. High levels of fire disturbance, delayed or failed regeneration, delayed reporting of successful regeneration and gaps in time between the disturbance and when the stand is declared free-to-grow may have contributed to the high frequency of the 0–20 age class reported for Ontario (Figure 11). Similarly, the age class distribution of forests in Manitoba are weighted toward younger trees.Footnote64

Figure 11. Area (thousands of km2) of the age class distribution for the managed forests of Ontario for all forest types for 1996, 2001, and 2006.

graph
Source: data from Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 2007Footnote39

Long Description for Figure 11

This bar graph shows the following information:

Area (thousands of km2) of the age class distribution for the managed forests of Ontario for all forest types for 1996, 2001, and 2006.
Age ClassArea (thousands of km2)
1996
Area (thousands of km2)
2001
Area (thousands of km2)
2006
0-2049.344.155.8
21-4016.319.524.3
41-6054.348.234.3
61-8074.279.869.3
81-10055.760.763.3
101-12032.234.833.4
121-14034.525.823.6
141-16016.018.517.5
161-1802.24.44.7
180+1.21.00.8

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The Quebec portion of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ includes approximately 433,000 km2 of forest, 424,000 km2 of which are productive (forests capable of producing 30 m3 or more of wood per hectare (0.01 km2) within 120 years, and having <41% slope).Footnote63 Fire history reconstruction records from the past 300 years from northeastern Ontario to eastern Quebec’s north shore show that, historically, more than 50% of the forest was over 100 years old.Footnote58 , Footnote65 In Quebec, current forest management practices have resulted in an increase in the proportion of early-seral habitats and decreases in late-seral habitats as forestry moves towards the east and north (e.g., Figure 12).Footnote55 , Footnote66 Harvesting targets older age classes, hence, the shift to younger seral stages after harvest occurs more frequently than what would be expected by natural disturbance alone.

Figure 12. Proportional area of the most common subdomains by developmental stage in the Quebec portion of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 2005.

Data includes private and public forests.

graph
Source: Ministère des Ressources naturelles et Faune, 2009Footnote67, Statistiques forestières, unpublished data, updated from Ministère des Ressources naturelles 2002)Footnote61

Long Description for Figure 12

This series of bar graphs shows the following information:

Data for figure 12a - Sugar maple-yellow birch West
Development stageProportional Area (%)
1970-79
Proportional Area (%)
1980-89
Proportional Area (%)
1990-99
Mature626365
Young313028
Regenerated535
Regenerating242
Data for figure 12b -Sugar maple-yellow birch East
Development stage1970-79
Proportional Area (%)
1980-89
Proportional Area (%)
1990-99
Proportional Area (%)
Mature534554
Young354231
Regenerated7812
Regenerating553
Data for figure 12c -Balsam fir-yellow birch West
Development stageProportional Area (%)
1970-79
Proportional Area (%)
1980-89
Proportional Area (%)
1990-99
Mature566769
Young302016
Regenerated12812
Regenerating353
Data for figure 12d -Balsam fir-yellow birch East
Development stageProportional Area (%)
1970-79
Proportional Area (%)
1980-89
Proportional Area (%)
1990-99
Mature314349
Young483426
Regenerated131420
Regenerating795
Data for figure 12e -Balsam fir-white birch West
Development stage1970-791980-891990-99
Mature424447
Young282522
Regenerated181622
Regenerating12159
Data for figure 12f - Balsam fir-white birch West
Development stageProportional Area (%)
1970-79
Proportional Area (%)
1980-89
Proportional Area (%)
1990-99
Mature495552
Young221922
Regenerated211517
Regenerating71110
Data for figure 12g -Spruce-moss West
Development stageProportional Area (%)
1970-79
Proportional Area (%)
1980-89
Proportional Area (%)
1990-99
Mature575147
Young222924
Regenerated14813
Regenerating71216
Data for figure 12h - Spruce-moss East
Development stageProportional Area (%)
1970-79
Proportional Area (%)
1980-89
Proportional Area (%)
1990-99
Mature706665
Young172118
Regenerated867
Regenerating4610

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The Quebec government is exploring the viability of fibre production in the north (between the 49th and the 52nd latitudes). The three potential zones would include “northern development” with some fragile areas but overall good growth and potential for forestry, “fire-driven development” with short fire intervals that would have to be considered during harvest planning, and “limited development” furthest north for limited forestry.Footnote68

Areas north of the managed forests are rarely monitored and changes across these regions are generally unknown. However, dense, mature conifer (spruce-dominated) stands were replaced with lichen woodlands over nine percent of the landscape between 1950 and 2002, causing a shift in ecosystem types in the northeast Boreal Shield Ecozone+. These shifts were attributed to increased fire frequency, earlier and lighter fires, and fire events that shortly followed insect outbreaks.Footnote69,Footnote70

A small amount of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ extends into Labrador. Based on Landsat imagery from 1987–1990, 87% of the region is forested and includes all of the Paradise River and Lake Melville ecoregions (Figure 7). Commercially viable forests of black spruce and balsam fir comprise 52.6% of the total forested area and non-commercial forest includes other black spruce forest (24.3%), lichen woodland (6.7%), and smaller amounts of hardwood scrub and mixed forest.Footnote71 Burned areas comprise 15% of the forested area, typically dominated by birch, aspen, and black spruce. No trends can be reported for Labrador because these forests are not monitored regularly. Permanent sample plots were established in the 1990s but few have been re-measured.Footnote72

Forest harvest increased in the Boreal Shield from the early 1900s until it peaked in the mid-1990s.Footnote73 As of 2004, forest harvesting activities had declined sharply to their early 1980s levels. Many factors led to these declines, including high costs of fuels and electricity, trade restrictions, the relatively high value of the Canadian dollar, global competition, and, most importantly, the collapse of the US housing market, which depressed demand for lumber.Footnote74

Forest birds

Given that forest habitat dominates the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, this ecozone+ supports a substantial proportion of Canada’s forest birds.Footnote75, Footnote76 Eighteen species have 30% or more of their Canadian range in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ and 17 of these are neotropical migrants (Table 5). The Boreal Shield Ecozone+ has year-round resident landbirds such as boreal chickadees (Poecile hudsonicus) and gray jays (Perisoreus canadensis) as well as many migratory species that breed in boreal forests each summer then migrate southward each year. Sparrows, warblers, and thrushes account for more than half of all boreal landbirds. Boreal landbirds are highly migratory: an estimated 93% of these birds leave the boreal each fall to overwinter in the United States, Mexico, the West Indies, and Central and South America and return the following year to breed.Footnote77 For the few bird species that are year-round residents in this ecozone+, populations are difficult to monitor because of the timing of their breeding season (April to May when there is still snow cover) and their low densities.Footnote76

Overall, trends in forest birds are stable or increasing in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ (Table 6). Boreal chickadees, endemic to the spruce-fir forests of the North American boreal region, are declining Canada-wide according to the Christmas Bird Count (CBC)Footnote78 but not the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) (Table 6).Footnote79 The decline of olive-sided flycatchers (Contopus cooperi) (Table 6), listed as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 2007,Footnote80 was consistent with reduced numbers of all the aerial insectivores over the same period.Footnote81 In 2008, Canada warblers (Cardellina canadensis) were also listed as Threatened by COSEWIC. These and other neotropical migrants are affected by changes to their tropical wintering grounds.Footnote82 Similarly, populations of short-distance migrant forest birds (e.g., winter wrens (Troglodytes hiemalis), blue-headed vireos (Vireo solitarius), ruby-crowned kinglets (Regulus calendula) are affected by the degradation of their winter habitat, even though their breeding grounds remain unchanged in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.Footnote83

Estimates for species-specific trends were drawn from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). The BBS is a long-term, large-scale, international avian monitoring program initiated in 1966 to track the status and trends of North American bird populations. Each year, thousands of birders volunteer to collect bird population data along roadside survey routes during the height of the avian breeding season. The reliance on roadside habitats, which facilitate accessibility for observers, reduces reliability of trends for bird species that use other habitats. Many landbird species (irruptive species, nomadic species, primary cavity nesters/woodpeckers, grouse, diurnal raptors, nocturnal raptors, species at risk), almost all waterbird and shorebird species, and cavity-nesting waterfowl species are not adequately monitored.Footnote84 Variation in observer abilities and incomplete geographic coverage are other sources of bias.Footnote85 In particular, trends with low reliability should be interpreted with caution.

The trends reported here are not representative at the ecozone+-scale. The Boreal Shield Ecozone+ coincides with Bird Conservation Region 8 (BCR 8 - Boreal Softwood Shield) and the northern half of Bird Conservation Region 12 (BCR 12 - Boreal Hardwood Transition). Trends for all of BCR 12, which includes the Mixedwood Plains Ecozone+, are reported here. The more active survey routes are concentrated in the southern part of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, which increases the reliability of the trends in BCR 12 compared to BCR 8 (e.g., Table 6). Ontario and Quebec also have better coverage than other provinces in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.

Table 5. Neotropical migrant bird species with more than 30% of their Canadian range within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. This table includes forest and shrubland birds.
Common nameNorth American (NA) breeding population within the Ecozone+  (%)Range within the Ecozone+  (%) relative to NA rangeRange within the Ecozone+  (%) relative to Canadian rangeSignificant (p) decline from 1970 to 2012 (BBS)Note a of Table 5
Bay-breasted warbler (Setophaga castanea)846163 -
Black-and-white warbler (Mniotilta varia)61347 -
Blackburnian warbler (Setophaga fusca)775165 -
Black-throated blue warbler (Setophaga caerulescens)594060 -
Black-throated green warbler (Setophaga virens)625466 -
Canada warbler (Cardellina canadensis)675561nBCR 8
Cape May warbler (Setophaga tigrina)795153 
Chestnut-sided warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)794762Note b of Table 5*BCR 8
Connecticut warbler (Oporornis agilis)616155nBCR 8 and Note b of Table 5*BCR 12
Golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)762556 -
Magnolia warbler (Setophaga magnolia)604547 -
Mourning warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia)834751Note b of Table 5*BCR 8 and Note b of Table 5*BCR 12
Nashville warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)824659 -
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)612646 -
Philadelphia vireo (Vireo philadelphicus)793845 -
Veery (Catharus fuscescens)642536Note * of Table 5BCR 12
Yellow-bellied flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris)863952 -

Source: data from Rich et al., 2004Footnote83, (Environment Canada, 2014)Footnote79

Notes of Table 5

Note [a] of Table 5

These estimates are based on North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data housed at the National Wildlife Research Centre (Canadian Wildlife Service) or Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (US Geological Survey).

Return to note a referrer of table 1

Note [b] of Table 5

p is the statistical significance: * indicates p <0.05; n indicates 0.05<p<0.1; no value indicates not significant. Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs) that overlap the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ are BCR 8, which includes the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, and the northern half of BCR 12.Footnote86 The declines reported here include all of BCR 12 and exceed the Boreal Shield Ecozone+'s boundaries.

Return to note b referrer of table 5

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Populations of forest birds respond to the availability of food resources. Populations of several species, including purple finch (Haemorphous purpureus), exhibit substantial natural fluctuations due to changes in seed supply, fire, and insect infestations, particularly those in more northern coniferous forests.Footnote76 Global climate change may also affect birds by advancing arrival times on breeding grounds and/or nestling hatch times, causing a mismatch with peaks in prey abundance.Footnote87 This leads to decreased productivity, changes to predator communities, and reduced or shifted ranges.Footnote88 For example, declines in gray jay in Algonquin Park have been attributed, at least in part, to higher winter temperatures that spoil this resident species’ winter food stores.Footnote89

Table 6. Trends in abundance (% change/year) and reliability of the trend for selected species of forest birds characteristic of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1970–2012.
Forest BirdsBCR 8 TrendBCR 8 ReliabilityBCR 12 TrendBCR 12 Reliability
American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)-0.01Low-0.49High
Bay-breasted warbler (Setophaga castanea)1.47Low-3.64Medium
Black-and-white warbler (Mniotilta varia)0.68Low-0.53High
Blackburnian warbler (Setophaga fusca)1.55Low0.88High
Black-throated blue warbler (Setophaga caerulescens)5.29Low2.10High
Black-throated green warbler (Setophaga virens)0.60Low1.07High
Blue-headed vireo (Vireo solitarius)5.99Low3.83High
Boreal chickadee(Poecile hudsonicus)3.25Low0.78Medium
Broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus)3.07Low0.40High
Canada warbler (Cardellina canadensis)-1.54Low-3.62High
Cape May warbler (Setophaga tigrina)0.91Low-1.08Medium
Evening grosbeakNote a of Table 6 (Coccothraustes vespertinus)-5.84Medium-3.5Medium
Gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis)0.63Low-0.16High
Least flycatcher (Empidonax minimus)-1.07Low-2.47High
Magnolia warbler (Setophaga magnolia)1.85Low1.89High
Olive-sided flycatcher (Contopus cooperi)-1.44Low-5.37High
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)0.21Medium-0.22High
Philadelphia vireo (Vireo philadelphicus)0.47Low2.14High
Purple finch (Haemorphous purpureus)-0.70Low-2.89High
Red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus)0.90Medium0.99Medium
Rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)-1.87Low-2.61High
Ruby-crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula)1.45Low-3.20High
Ruffed grouse(Bonasa umbellus)2.68Low-1.78High
Swainson's thrush (Catharus ustulatus)-0.31Low-0.29High
Tennessee warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)0.98Low-3.57Medium
Veery (Catharus fuscescens)2.00Medium-1.05High
Winter wren (Troglodytes hiemalis)1.22Low0.94High
Yellow-rumped warbler (Setophaga coronata)2.64Low0.64High

Source: Environment Canada, 201Footnote79

Notes of Table 6

Note [a] of Table 6

Shrubland bird species

Return to note a referrer of table 6

These data include the Ontario and Quebec portions of Bird Conservation Region 8 and 12. Only the northern half of BCR 12 falls within the ecozone+, so these data exceed the boundaries of the ecozone+  to the south and underrepresent the ecozone+  in the prairie provinces and Labrador.Footnote86

Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) were extirpated in early 1900s and reintroduced to their native range in southern Ontario and the southern edge of Boreal Shield Ecozone+.Footnote90 Turkeys are naturally expanding their range northward into the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in Algonquin Provincial Park, along Georgian Bay, and near the Ottawa River.Footnote90

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Cavity nesters

Cavity nesters are birds that nest in cavities they make themselves (primary cavity nesters) or in cavities made by other species (secondary cavity nesters). As primary cavity nesters, woodpeckers are good indicators of overall forest health because they occupy various habitat types and seral stagesFootnote91 and are “habitat engineers” that provide nests for other species. Reductions in old-growth forest habitat and fire suppression in some areas reduce the number of cavity nesters,Footnote76 however, woodpeckers were generally stable or increasing in the Ontario and Quebec parts of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ (Table 7).

Table 7. Trends in abundance (% change/year) and reliability of the trend for woodpeckers in the Ontario and Quebec portions of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+  from 1970 to 2012.
Cavity nestersBCR 8 TrendBCR 8 ReliabilityBCR 12 TrendBCR 12 Reliability
Black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) - --1.79Medium
Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)1.31Low0.33High
Hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus)1.80Low2.16High
Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)0.04Low-0.66High

Source: Environment Canada, 2014Footnote79

These data include the Ontario and Quebec portions of Bird Conservation Region 8 and 12. Only the northern half of BCR 12 falls within the ecozone+, so these data exceed the boundaries of the ecozone+  to the south and underrepresent the ecozone+  in the prairie provinces and Labrador.Footnote86

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Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+

Approximately 5,000 km2 (44%) of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ is forested (including productive forest, forested fens, forested bogs, thickets and swamps).Footnote92, Footnote93 Productive forests are producing or capable of producing commercial forest products. As of 2009, productive forests were dominated by trees 81 years and older, with lower but fairly even densities of trees in the 0–20, 21–40, 41–60, and 61–80 age classes (Figure 13).Footnote23

In Newfoundland, black-backed woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus) were almost exclusively found in >80-year-old forests.Footnote94 Downy woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) were common and similarly distributed among all forest age classes, and hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus) were uncommon and only observed in the 40- and 60-year age classes.Footnote94 A reduction in the amount of forest in the oldest age class could be responsible for the decline in black-backed woodpeckers in western Newfoundland (Table 8).Footnote79

Table 8. Trends in abundance (% change/year) and reliability of the trend in cavity nesters in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+  from 1980 to 2012
SpeciesAnnual TrendReliability
Black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus)-1.76Low
Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)2.07Low
Hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus)1.43Low
Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)-1.80Medium

Source: Environment Canada, 2014Footnote79

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Black spruce is the dominant tree species in about one-third of the forests on the island. It is common on both very dry and very wet sites due to its high tolerance for unfavourable conditions. Repeated fires over the centuries have established black spruce as a dominant species in much of the central Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+.Footnote93 Balsam fir is the most abundant tree species in the ecozone+.Footnote93 Forest stands in the west of the ecozone+ are commonly pure balsam fir. These areas are usually moist, with well-drained soils where trees can attain heights of 24 m at 100 years. White birch (Betula papyrifera) and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) make up significant components of mixed wood and minor hardwood stands on better forest sites. Hardwoods can reach a height of 22 m at 80 years in fertile areas. There are no major hardwood stands in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+.Footnote93

Figure 13 Area of each forest age class in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, 2009.

This represents all productive forested stands. It does not reflect scrub types and does not include forests in national parks.

graph
Source: Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources, 2009Footnote95

Long Description for Figure 13

This bar graph shows the following information:

Area of each forest age class in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, 2009.
Age ClassArea (thousand ha)
0-20370,000
21-40350,000
41-60310,000
61-80500,000
81+980,000

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Moose (Alces alces), initially introduced in 1878, are a major driver of forest change in the ecozone+.Footnote96 Footnote97 Footnote98 Browsing pressure has reduced the abundance of native trees and shrubs and caused the community composition to shift.Footnote96-Footnote98 Balsam fir has failed to regenerate in many areas and, where browsed, has become a low, bush-shaped tree. Unpalatable white spruce and black spruce are avoided by moose and are likely to replace fir as the dominant trees.Footnote99 Many hardwoods, including white birch, have disappeared from the canopy.Footnote99 Declines have been observed in other native species such as Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), mountain maple (Acer spicatum), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), Northern wild raisin (Viburnum cassinoides),   pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), red maple (Acer rubrum) and American mountain-ash (Sorbus americana), also preferentially browsed by moose.Footnote97, Footnote99 Footnote100 Footnote101

Sustained browsing pressure by overabundant moose populations has converted forests within Terra Nova National Park, NL (Figure 14) and Gros Morne National Park, NL. In these protected areas, forest gaps formed in the late 1970s as a result of natural (i.e., insect outbreaks) or anthropogenic disturbances have not returned to a closed canopy forest.Footnote96, Footnote97, Footnote99, Footnote100 After disturbance occurs, moose concentrate their browsing activities in these early successional communities because the seed bank contains highly palatable species.Footnote99, Footnote102, Footnote103 Consequently, many sites have transitioned from closed boreal forest to an open landscape (Figure 14) dominated by unpalatable speciesFootnote97, Footnote99, Footnote100, Footnote104 and invasive non-native herbs.Footnote104 Where balsam fir does occur, it is highly stunted from sustained browsing and unable to reach adult reproductive stages or form a canopy.Footnote99, Footnote104 Declines in balsam fir as well as hardwoods and overall forest structure could have cascading effects on numerous dependent native species, including forest birds,Footnote105 specialist epiphytic tree lichens,Footnote106 and insects.Footnote99

Figure 14. Impact of moose on forest regeneration in Terra Nova National Park, NL.

Areas in grey are non-forest.

map
Source: Parks Canada, 2007Footnote107

Long Description for Figure 14

This map of Terra Nova National Park of Canada shows the impact of moose on forest regeneration, indicating that many sites in the park have transitioned from closed boreal forest to an open landscape due to moose impacts. Impacts are classified as severely impacted (open forest canopy, no balsam fir regeneration, no seed source), heavily impacted (intact forest canopy, limited balsam fir regeneration, limited seed source) and low impact (predominantly black spruce forest) areas. The severely impacted areas are primarily concentrated in the northern portion of the park, and the heavily impacted and low impact areas are well distributed throughout the park, with heavily impacted areas dominating the coasts of Clode Sound and Chandler Reach.

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Insect defoliators are another major stressor on forests in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ and are discussed in the Large scale native insect outbreaks section on page 145.

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Forest birds

The Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ is part of BCR 8 and is easily distinguished in the BBS dataset by province. Most forest (Table 9) and shrubland (Table 10) birds in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ are increasing or stable, however some species such as red crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) and gray-cheeked thrush (Catharus minimus) declined substantially from   1980 to 2012 (Table 9).

Table 9. Trends in forest birds from 1980 to 2012 in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
SpeciesTrendReliability
Black-and-white warbler (Mniotilta varia)-0.72High
Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)4.62Medium
Blackpoll warbler (Setophaga striata)-5.90Medium
Black-throated green warbler (Setophaga virens)0.48Medium
Blue-headed vireo (Vireo solitarius)5.19Low
Cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)3.74Low
Common redpoll (Acanthis flammea)-9.01Low
Dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis)4.93Medium
Golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa)5.71Low
Gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis)1.98Medium
Gray-cheeked thrush (Catharus minimus)-12.80Medium
Hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus)2.38Medium
Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus)10.70Low
Magnolia warbler (Setophaga magnolia)0.42Medium
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)-6.95Medium
Pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator)-0.33Medium
Pine siskin (Spinus pinus)-1.15Low
Purple finch (Haemorhous purpureus)-0.17Medium
Red crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)-16.30Low
Red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)19.90Low
Red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus)15.60Low
Ruby-crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula)-0.20High
Swainson's thrush (Catharus ustulatus)1.37Medium
Tennessee warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)-1.57Low
White-winged crossbill (Loxia leucoptera)7.78Low
Wilson's warbler (Cardellina pusilla)-3.69Medium
Winter wren (Troglodytes hiemalis)-0.72Low
Yellow-bellied flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris)-1.63Medium
Yellow-rumped warbler (Setophaga coronata)-0.37High

Source: Environment Canada, 2014Footnote79

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Table10. Trends in shrubland birds between 1980 and 2012 in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
SpeciesTrendReliability
Evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)3.38Low
Fox sparrow (Passerella iliaca)-1.42High
Lincoln's sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)-1.34Medium
Mourning warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia)-5.76Medium
Palm warbler (Setophaga palmarum)3.38Low
Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia)3.60Low
White-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)1.58Low
White-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)-1.67Medium
Yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia)0.16Medium

Source: Environment Canada, 2014Footnote79

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Wetlands

Key finding 3
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.

Boreal Shield Ecozone+

Wetlands are defined as those land areas that have the water table at, near, or above the soil surface for a major portion, or all, of the growing season.Footnote92 Up to 26% (320,000 km2) of the 1,240,368 km2 of wetlands in Canada may be found in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. Hydroelectric dams and reservoirs have been the primary causes of wetland losses. Between 1960 and 2000, 9,000 km2 of wetlands were flooded for hydroelectric developments in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.Footnote12, Footnote108 Peatlands (also called muskeg) are wetlands with a thick water-logged organic soil layer (peat) made up of dead and decaying plant material. Ditching and draining of peatlands for forestry or agriculture modifies the water balanceFootnote109 and can increase erosion and siltation of surface waters.Footnote110 Between 1980 and 2000, 250 km2 of peatlands were drained for forestry in the ecozone+.Footnote12 In Quebec, 110 km2 of peatlands were converted to agriculture by 2001.Footnote110 Between the 46th and 49th parallels, peatlands in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ are also used for cranberry cultivation.Footnote110 Climate change could make more northern areas available for cultivation, further promoting drainage of peatlands.Footnote111

As well as direct loss of wetlands, road construction threatens wetlands through wildlife mortality from construction and vehicle collisions, modification of animal behaviour, alteration of the physical and chemical environment, facilitation of the spread of non-native species, and changes to predator-prey relationships.Footnote112 Predation on artificial bird nests, for example, was highest in boreal forest-highway ecotones (an ecotone is a transition area between two biomes), intermediate in riparian boreal forest strips along lakes and forest-logging road ecotones, and lowest in riparian boreal forest buffers along rivers.Footnote113 Road construction and use increases sedimentation and alters the water balance of wetlands.Footnote112, Footnote114 Laws governing road construction differ among provinces in the ecozone+. Several provinces now regulate the construction of logging roads to maintain water quality for fish habitat.Footnote114 Footnote115 Footnote116

Disturbances such as forestry and road construction create opportunities for the invasion of non-native species in the Boreal Shield. For example, purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) exploits disturbancesFootnote117 and has spread into wetlands across Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.Footnote118 Although the Boreal Shield is less invaded than more southern ecozones+, climate change could facilitate the spread of non-native species to regions where they are presently absent due to climate barriers.

Intensive cottage construction and recreation since the 1930s, particularly along the southern and northwestern lakes in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, has altered riparian vegetation and led to eutrophication in aquatic environments as a result of sewage discharge. Grass mowing, shoreline clearing, and road construction alter riparian habitats, decreasing their function for fish and wildlife. For example, removing 50% of the macrophytes from lake shorelines reduced northern pike (Esox lucius) by 50%.Footnote119 Clark et al. (1984)Footnote120 found that ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla) were found primarily along undeveloped lake shores whereas eastern phoebes (Sayornis phoebe) were found in highly developed habitats.

Undeveloped wetlands intercept and sequester nitrate entering catchments from precipitation, whether the origins were natural or anthropogenic.Footnote121 With the increase in deposition of nitrate observed throughout developed areas of the world,Footnote122 wetlands may help protect downstream waters from the full effects of nitric acid.Footnote121 Effects of acid deposition on aquatic ecosystems of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ are discussed in the Acid deposition key finding on page Footnote103.

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Waterfowl

Overall, waterfowl densities are relatively low in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. However, waterfowl from the Atlantic, Mississippi, and central migratory flyways breed and stage in this ecozone+.Footnote123 Areas of very high waterfowl densities can be found in the boreal forest in parts of Ontario and in Quebec’s Abitibi region.Footnote124

To optimize the use of existing data, this ecozone+ was divided into eastern and western sections, along the 86°W meridian (dividing Ontario approximately in half). The western area is covered by the CWS/USFWS Waterfowl Breeding Survey (WBS)Footnote125 and the eastern area is covered by the USFWS Airplane/Transect survey (USFWS A/TS) and the CWS Boreal Helicopter Plot Survey (CWSBHPS) (CWS, unpublished data)Footnote126 (Table 11). For more on the surveys and related analyses, see Fast et al. (2011)Footnote126

Table 11. Abundance trends for selected waterfowl species in the westerna  and easternb  Boreal Shield Ecozone+  by decade, 1970s-2000s and the Breeding Bird Surveyc between 1970 and 2012.

11.1 Western Annual Index (in 1000s)a
SpeciesTrend (p)Note a of Table 111970s1980s1990s2000s% Change
American black duck (Anas rubripes) - - - - - -
American wigeon (Anas americana)-2.04*Note b of Table 11152.1127.8115.679.6-47.6
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)0.596455.773.67923.5
Canada goose (Branta canadensis)3.66*Note b of Table 1168.6100130.7165.1140.6
Goldeneye (Bucephala sp.)1.54*Note b of Table 11170174.6268.7272.360.2
Green-winged teal (Anas crecca)1.79*Note b of Table 11101101.8152.2140.639.2
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)-0.45635.8599.8649.4555.3-12.7
Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris)3.46*Note b of Table 11153.5199.9337.7433.9182.7
Scaup (Aythya sp.)-1.92*Note b of Table 11236.7202.8200.8133.7-43.5
Scoter (Melanitta sp.)-150.756.647.144.1-13.1
11.2 Eastern Annual Index (in 1000s)b
SpeciesTrend (p)Note a of Table 111990s2000s% Change
American black duck (Anas rubripes)1.32*Note b of Table 11141.6162.414.7
American wigeon (Anas americana) - - - -
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)-2.179.69-6.2
Canada goose (Branta canadensis)6.75*Note b of Table 1127.147.475.4
Goldeneye (Bucephala sp.)2.1686.7107.123.5
Green-winged teal (Anas crecca)-1.653432.2-5.1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)3.9*Note b of Table 1164.488.236.8
Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris)2.39*Note b of Table 1195.7119.725
Scaup (Aythya sp.) - - - -
Scoter (Melanitta sp.) - - - -
11.3 Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)c
SpeciesBCR 8 TrendBCR 12 Trend
American black duck (Anas rubripes)2.1-3.55
American wigeon (Anas americana) -0.62
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) - -
Canada goose (Branta canadensis)18.321.5
Goldeneye (Bucephala sp.)-1.050.48
Green-winged teal (Anas crecca) --4.35
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) -1.98
Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris)-2.641.67
Scaup (Aythya sp.) - -
Scoter (Melanitta sp.) - -

Sources: a CWS and USFWS WBS; b USFWS A/TS, the CWS BHPS and the Southern Ontario Waterfowl Survey (SOWS) in Fast et al. 2010Footnote126 and c Environment CanadaFootnote79

Notes of Table 11

Note [a] of Table 11

p is the statistical significance

Return to note a referrer of table 11

Note [b] of Table 11

* indicates p &lt;0.05; no value indicates not significant. The BBS data include portions of Bird Conservation Region 8 and 12. Only the northern half of BCR 12 falls within the Ecozone+, so these data exceed the boundaries of the ecozone+  to the south and may underrepresent the ecozone+  in the prairie provinces and Labrador.Footnote86

Return to note b referrer of table 11

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Waterfowl trends differed for each species in the western and eastern Boreal Shield Ecozone+ and among the different datasets. For example, green-winged teal (Anas crecca) increased in the west (Figure 15a), were stable in the east (Figure 16a), and declined in Bird Conservation Region 12 (Table 11). Scaup [combined lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) and greater scaup (A. marila)] have declined (Figure 15b). These species have also declined in neighbouring ecozones+ (i.e., Boreal Plain, Taiga Plain, Taiga Shield, and Prairie ecozones+), which suggests common factors operate within or beyond these breeding areas. The northern boreal region was less productive for scaup recruitment than more southern biomes, even though there were more breeding adults in the north.Footnote127 Scaup at the northern limits of their range must migrate farther and have shorter overall breeding seasons than those nesting further south. These constraints may make these birds more susceptible to mechanisms of population regulation associated with female body condition, timing of breeding, quality of fledging juveniles,Footnote127 changes in food resources,Footnote128 and climate change.Footnote129

The population trends of scoters [combined white-winged (Melanitta fusca) and surf (M. perspicillata) scoters] and buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) (Table 11 and Figure 15b) were stable.

Figure 15. Number of breeding pairs for a) selected dabbling ducks: American wigeon, scaup, scoter, mallard, and green-winged teal and b) selected diving ducks: bufflehead, goldeneye, ring-necked duck in the western Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1970 to 2006.

graph
Source: based on data from CWS/USFWS WBS (WBS)Footnote126

Long Description for Figure 15

 

These line graphs show the following information:

Number of breeding pairs for a) selected dabbling ducks: American wigeon, scaup, scoter, mallard, and green-winged teal in the western Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1970 to 2006.
YearNumber of breeding pairs
Mallard
Number of breeding pairs
American wigeon
Number of breeding pairs
Green-winged teal
19701,011,787322,97086,187
1971573,056178,91190,459
1972436,213106,44960,160
1973589,679121,27345,678
1974399,570129,15179,919
1975464,76878,57672,003
1976700,830116,07282,787
1977597,014140,727103,394
1978753,745183,912216,365
1979831,410142,661172,572
1980670,830159,780152,030
1981800,217149,54294,584
1982605,989126,41891,413
1983587,057177,737120,830
1984441,368116,30086,629
1985485,437109,99687,336
1986337,08437,27066,523
1987439,02273,86384,109
1988784,216138,231121,836
1989847,143188,726112,537
1990785,348136,511154,374
1991601,667151,80287,897
1992882,452121,029180,749
1993694,687107,205189,865
1994773,188205,009158,464
1995760,52399,896157,138
1996687,93992,730191,499
1997427,40283,758213,673
1998477,03455,342101,985
1999403,717102,45085,898
2000504,58780,80789,445
2001240,83448,47593,524
2002566,21384,960163,400
2003698,917110,340160,598
2004905,45785,322215,854
2005658,81693,559151,577
2006312,44354,031109,595
Number of breeding pairs for b) selected diving ducks: bufflehead, goldeneye, ring-necked duck in the western Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1970 to 2006.
YearBuffleheadRing-neck duckScoterGoldeneyeScaup
197094,499181,21023,019138,089310,087
197178,110192,16233,112147,035197,186
197257,711139,31898,364198,193313,587
197358,47276,50444,093246,371167,187
197453,511105,43232,452118,027212,910
197544,821154,68853,542144,790251,947
197672,192187,46161,214207,450238,101
197758,397140,12265,835220,153259,252
197854,083205,23046,532145,503201,318
197968,058152,61049,301134,322215,911
198060,106233,09291,173135,410194,546
198170,505252,26776,471287,175264,893
198264,476203,58296,978151,536161,325
198390,352219,342133,592172,062263,986
198445,873233,13761,009125,403165,318
198561,198254,84535,267129,753175,284
198629,789100,81812,508276,255254,895
198739,153184,86826,620168,623125,298
198845,515168,85325,769129,418178,733
198949,760147,8846,247170,345243,731
199059,708202,47512,317121,238287,716
199166,433228,98517,47060,271326,402
1992136,146403,2889,601179,506357,156
199396,962306,93531,889238,406157,679
199457,947370,41535,673117,869150,688
199560,030376,23440,804177,946163,224
199665,303314,488103,309847,194114,205
199779,339424,763137,835334,543161,261
199847,405525,86833,300254,185140,097
199967,165223,54148,597356,315149,272
200095,661416,09423,890555,003100,738
200164,154297,59120,402344,64469,682
200270,587740,23050,439270,469147,170
200361,156507,30233,551165,867114,749
2004114,287558,883119,824235,727241,988
200579,472316,43940,100134,337137,859
200667,630201,08020,638199,805123,541

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Waterfowl trends in the eastern Boreal Shield Ecozone+ were similar to those observed the west; ring-necked ducks increased and bufflehead populations were stable (Figure 16b). Other species such as green-winged teal (Figure 16a) and goldeneye (Figure 16b) that were increasing in the west were stable in the east.

Figure 16. Number of breeding pairs of a) selected dabbling ducks: American black duck, green-winged teal, and mallard and b) selected diving ducks: bufflehead, goldeneye, and ring-necked duck in the eastern Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1990 to 2006.

graph
Source: based on data from the USFWS A/TS, the CWS BHPS, and the SOWSFootnote126

Long Description for Figure 16

These line graphs show the following information:

Number of breeding pairs of a) selected dabbling ducks: American black duck, green-winged teal, and mallard in the eastern Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1990 to 2006.
YearAmerican black duck
Number of breeding pairs
Green-winged tea
Number of breeding pairs l
Mallard
Number of breeding pairs
1990160,87548,49643,782
1991141,96830,35758,312
1992134,02540,62066,992
1993137,52634,20059,257
199496,21544,52767,689
1995125,46438,46054,167
1996171,12532,07561,846
1997128,08422,02778,235
1998140,71220,92175,198
1999180,12327,94379,011
2000173,47440,05577,198
2001158,86421,98781,811
2002183,47331,70185,219
2003160,92231,800106,257
2004163,46638,26689,610
2005141,92322,97599,971
2006154,88438,82877,278
Number of breeding pairs of b) selected diving ducks: bufflehead, goldeneye, and ring-necked duck in the eastern Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1990 to 2006.
YearBufflehead
Number of breeding pairs
Goldeneye
Number of breeding pairs
Ring-necked duck
Number of breeding pairs
199021,47367,99486,458
199119,32587,86695,992
199211,89586,153105,475
19931,93893,82285,806
199411,63088,97175,968
19953,55359,87177,608
199610,97284,713113,595
19973,61597,773109,812
19986,11382,18181,006
19995,967117,909125,466
20006,464106,422125,199
200111,806 -107,999
200215,473125,177118,892
20039,609122,492132,833
20045,871103,895129,978
20059,05496,312105,008
20065,03988,121117,866

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The eastern population of Barrow’s goldeneye was classified as Special Concern by COSEWIC in November 2000.Footnote130 These cavity-nesting ducks breed in eastern Quebec and winter along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence Estuary.Footnote131 Potential threats to this species include accumulation of heavy metals in prey, recreational development on breeding lakes, loss of nesting habitat due to logging, introduced fish, and oil spills in wintering areas.Footnote131 Logging destroys nests, reduces the number of potential nest sites, exposes young to predation, and increases disturbance by making lakes more accessible.Footnote130 Lakes that were originally fishless have now been stocked with brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in some areas, and the presence of these fish could reduce habitat quality for Barrow's goldeneye.Footnote130 Fish compete with ducklings, forcing them to feed in riparian sites that are less accessible to fish.Footnote132

Half of North America’s American black duck (Anas rubripes) population breeds in boreal forest ecosystems. Logging, hydroelectric development, transmission lines, agriculture, and urbanization threaten American black duck breeding and staging habitats in Quebec.Footnote133 Mallard populations have increased in the eastern Boreal Shield Ecozone+ (Figure 16a), a trend common to other eastern ecozones+ and consistent with their range expansion in the east. This expansion has also encroached on the range of American black ducks in southern Quebec.Footnote133 American black ducks have been the focus of special conservation effort because their population in the United States decreased by almost 50% between 1955 and 1985.Footnote133 This prompted the creation of the Black Duck Joint Venture under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan to guide black duck conservation and management decisions. Hunting restrictions in Canada and the United States may be helping American black ducks recover because their populations have been increasing in the eastern Boreal Shield Ecozone+ since 1994.Footnote134

Canada goose (Branta canadensis) populations increased in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ (Table 11 and Figure 17), similar to other ecozones+ that have temperate nesting populations. Temperate nesting Canada geese have likely benefited from the large scale conversion of deciduous forest and natural prairie to cultivated land and urban areas that provide cereal grain, planted forage, and turf grass as food sources.Footnote135

Figure 17. Number of breeding pairs of Canada geese over time in the western (1970 to 2006) and eastern (1990 to 2006) portions of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 2005.

graph
Source: Western Canada goose based on data from the CWS/USFWS WBS. Eastern Canada goose based on data from USFWS A/TS, the CWS BHS, and the SOWS.Footnote126

Long Description for Figure 17

This line graph shows the following information:

Number of breeding pairs of Canada geese over time in the western (1970 to 2006) and eastern (1990 to 2006) portions of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 2005.
YearWestern Canada Goose
Number of breeding pairs
Eastern Canada Goose
Number of breeding pairs
197059,552 -
197156,476 -
197239,675 -
197325,001 -
197447,393 -
197543,227 -
197664,871 -
197766,897 -
1978162,048 -
1979120,939 -
198095,286 -
198175,495 -
198265,741 -
1983102,985 -
198486,023 -
198581,486 -
198694,595 -
1987121,068 -
1988152,812 -
1989124,056 -
1990147,98620,996
1991117,76423,316
1992101,63423,549
1993133,14923,026
1994155,09221,333
1995150,85020,318
1996109,20729,254
1997100,57726,139
199889,33933,805
1999201,03548,781
2000170,58639,734
200199,90846,571
2002170,59055,940
2003151,75852,382
2004167,50347,201
2005249,27642,409
2006145,86447,821

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Rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) has declined steeply in the surveyed portions of this region, according to BBS data. Rusty blackbird was designated a Species of Special Concern by COSEWIC in 2006.Footnote136 Trends for other wetland landbirds were not calculated because the BBS does not cover wetland habitat well.

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Shorebirds

Shorebirds are migratory and rely on wetlands during breeding, migration, and on their wintering grounds.Footnote137 Footnote138 Footnote139 Monitoring shorebirds in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ is challenging because they breed in habitats that are difficult and expensive to access and because they use a variety of habitats in multiple ecozones+.Footnote140 The populations of several shorebird species in the ecozone+ are declining (Table 12). The draining of wetlands, pollution, habitat loss, and disturbance on the nesting grounds, wintering grounds, and during migration all cause shorebird declines. Species will respond differently to these stressors depending on their life history and migratory pathways.Footnote141

Table 12. Trends in abundance (% change/year) and reliability of the trend in shorebirds in parts of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.
SpeciesYearBCR 8 Annual TrendBCR 8 ReliabilityBCR 12 Annual TrendBCR 12 Reliability
Lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)1991–2012-3.07Low - -
Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius)1970–2012-1.83Low-5.01High
Wilson's snipe (Gallinago delicata)1970–2012-0.52Medium - -
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)1970–2012-5.19Medium-5.43Medium
Solitary sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)1989–2012 - -8.32Low

Only the northern half of BCR 12 falls within the Ecozone+, so these data exceed the boundaries of the Ecozone+  to the south and may underrepresent other parts of the Ecozone+.Footnote86

Source: Environment Canada, 2014Footnote79

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Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+

Peatlands (bogs and fens) are the most common wetland type in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. They have been classified into six morphological types: domed bog, blanket bog, slope bog, basins bog, ribbed fen, and slope fen.Footnote142 Despite the extensive wetland area, there is little documentation of wetland conditions or trends.

Wetlands of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ are increasingly being altered from their natural state to support alternative land uses such as agriculture, urbanization, industrial development, and recreation.Footnote143 Development of wetlands through drainage, infilling, and channelization has detrimental effects on the quality and quantity of water downstream as well as within the wetlands themselves.Footnote143 The loss of habitat impacts terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna.Footnote143 The potential consequences of impacts on water resources include structural damage to bridges and culverts from increased flood flows; river bed erosion causing siltation; and detrimental impacts on fish resources, drinking water quality, and recreational uses of water bodies.Footnote143 In urban areas, development on former wetlands and floodplains can contribute both to lower water levels during summers and to flooding following rainstorms.Footnote144 Footnote145 Footnote146

Perhaps the greatest problem facing wetland management is that the ecological and socio-economic benefits of these ecosystems are usually not directly measurable and in many instances are not recognized until the wetland has been altered.Footnote143 In the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, many of the most productive coastal wetland habitats were located in the only bays and coves which are suitable for human settlement.Footnote147 Many of the productive freshwater wetlands are within municipalities or under the jurisdiction of forest companies.Footnote147 Legislation under the Newfoundland and Labrador Water Resources Act provides a degree of protection against wetland development which could aggravate flooding problems or have immitigable adverse effects on water quality or hydrology.Footnote143 As well, uses and developments of wetlands resulting in potentially adverse changes to the hydrologic characteristics or functions of the wetlands require that appropriate mitigative measures be implemented in order to receive environmental approval.Footnote143 Much of the stewardship activity in wetlands is carried out through the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (EHJV) Program.Footnote147 Many municipalities have committed to protecting and enhancing wetlands in their area by signing goodwill agreements (see the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ key finding on page 75).

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Wetland birds

Compared to other ecozones+, the Newfoundland Boreal is moderately important for breeding waterfowl. Inland and coastal wetlands in this ecozone+ are used by waterfowl for breeding and during the spring and fall migration.Footnote123 The harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus), designated as a Species of Special Concern by COSEWIC,Footnote130 moults along the Newfoundland coastFootnote148 and American black duck, king eider (Somateria spectabilis), long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis), and especially, common eider (Somateria mollissima borealis/dresseri) regularly over-winter in the open waters surrounding Newfoundland.Footnote149

Six species of wetland birds, some of which are declining in other ecozones+, increased in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ between 1980 and 2012 (Table 13). These birds may be increasing because they have fewer nest predators; Newfoundland lacks striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) and raccoons (Procyon lotor), which are common in other regions.Footnote150

Table 13. Trends in abundance (% change/year) and reliability of the trend for selected waterfowl and other bird species that use wetlands in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+  from 1980 to 2012.
SpeciesAnnual TrendReliability
American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)-1.38Low
American black duck (Anas rubripes)3.42Low
Canada goose (Branta canadensis)4.23Low
Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)4.04Low
Greater scaup (Aythya marila)4.76Low
Green-winged teal (Anas crecca)5.24Low
Northern pintail (Anas acuta)1.45Low
Northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)-2.51High
Red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator)-5.62Low
Rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)-7.25Low
Swamp sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)-2.25Medium

Source: Environment Canada, 2014Footnote79

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Lakes and rivers

Key finding 4
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.

Boreal Shield Ecozone+

The boreal contains half of the world’s lakes that are larger than 1 km2, five of the world’s 50 largest rivers, and more than 800,000 km2 of surface water.Footnote151 Hydrological conditions have direct effects on river and lake ecosystems, including the physical nature of river channels, sediment regimes, water quality, and key processes that sustain aquatic communities. Hydrological variability influences the structure of instream habitats and the composition of ecological communities, including plankton, benthic macroinvertebrates,Footnote152 and fish. Hydrological conditions are highly variable geographically across the ecozone+, but there have been significant changes over recent decades.

From 1970 to 2005, Monk and Baird (2014)Footnote14 found that monthly runoff significantly (p<0.1) increased or decreased at only a few of the 31 monitoring sites in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ for which hydrometric data were available (Figure 18). An exception was late summer runoff: 10 out of 31 sites and 9 out of 31 sites declined for August and September runoff, respectively. More typical were variations in directional trends. For example, between November and March, average monthly runoff decreased, on average, at 14 sites but increased at 11 sites. This directional variation could reflect the large east to west extent of this ecozone+. Except for baseflow, a greater number of sites decreased in both minimum and maximum runoff variables (Figure 18).Footnote14

Figure 18. The number of sites with significant (p<0.1) increasing or decreasing trends for each Indicator of Hydrologic Alteration variable for the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1970 to 2005.

graph
Source: Monk and Baird, 2014Footnote14

Long Description for Figure 18

This bar graph shows the number of sites with significant (p<0.1) increasing or decreasing trends for each Indicator of Hydrologic Alteration variable for the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1970 to 2005. The graph shows that that monthly runoff significantly increased or decreased at only a few of the 31 monitoring sites in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ for which hydrometric data was available. An exception was late summer runoff: 10 out of 31 sites and 9 out of 31 sites declined for August and September runoff, respectively. More typical were variations in directional trends, such as between November and March when monthly runoff decreased, on average, at 14 sites but increased at 11 sites.

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Annual flows generally decreased, and minimum and maximum flows declined. There was a trend toward earlier maximum flow events, decreasing water level rise, and increasing water level fall rates. There were significant changes in flashiness (changes in flashiness stress aquatic communities regardless of the direction of change)Footnote14 and the pattern of flow pulse occurrences. Changes in flow coincided with warmer winters and springs, which explains earlier maximum flow events and lower summer flow.Footnote153 Decreased precipitation as snow in winter may also result in lower flow throughout spring and summer months.Footnote154

Hydroclimatology is the analysis of how the climate system causes temporal and spatial variations in the hydrologic cycle. Changes in the relationship between the climate system and the hydrologic cycle underlie floods, drought, and influences of climate change on water resources. Cannon et al.(2011)Footnote153 looked at patterns of intra-seasonal trends in streamflow and organized stations into six groups of similar hydrologic trends across Canada. Trends in monthly temperature and monthly precipitation were combined with the six hydrologic clusters (labelled 1 through 6) to identify the main processes driving the shifts in streamflow. Due to the size of the ecozone+, most of the classifications (18 of the 24) were represented in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. Seven stations were Group 3, four were Group 1, three were Group 6, two were Group 5, and one each for Groups 2 and 4 (Figure 19).

Figure 19. Natural streamflow stations in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ by Hydrology Group (1–6) and streamflow driver (a–c), 1961–2003.

Hydrograph type a rivers are driven by mixed rain and snow processes and types b and c describe rivers dominated by snowmelt runoff.

map
Source: Cannon et al., 2011Footnote153

Long Description for Figure 19

This map of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ shows 18 diverse natural streamflow stations, defined by Hydrology Group (1-6) and streamflow driver (a-c). Hydrograph type 'a' rivers are driven by mixed rain and snow processes and types 'b' and 'c' describe rivers dominated by snowmelt runoff. From West to East, the following classifications are represented: 1b in Saskatchewan, 1b and 2c in Manitoba, 5c, 3c, 6c, 1a, 4a, 3a, and 3c, 1c in Quebec.

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Given the diversity of Hydrology Groups, there were few general conclusions about changes in streamflow for the entire ecozone+. Nevertheless, two shifts were apparent, one each in Groups 1 and 3. These two groups represented the majority of stations (11 of 18). During most of the year, flows decreased in Group 1 stations (Figure 20) located in the eastern and western edges of the ecozone+, as well as one north of Lake Superior. Among Group 3 stations, located closer to the centre of the ecozone+, flows increased in the winter and spring but decreased in the summer and fall (Figure 21). Local shifts were also observed, but were not representative of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ at larger scales.Footnote153

Figure 20. Changes in streamflow, temperature, and precipitation between 1961–1982 and 1983–2003 in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ Hydrology Group 1, with an example of Grass River representing Group 1b.

graph
Source: Cannon et al., 2011Footnote153

Long Description for Figure 20

This figure is a series of line, bar and scatterplot graphs with a map showing changes in streamflow, temperature, and precipitation between 1961–1982 and 1983–2003 in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ for Hydrology Group 1, with an example of Grass River representing Group 1b. During most of the year, flows decreased in Group 1 stations located in the eastern and western edges of the ecozone.

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Figure 21. Changes in streamflow, temperature, and precipitation between 1961–1982 and 1983–2003 in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ Hydrology Group 3, with an example of Sturgeon River representing Group 3c.

graph
Source: Cannon et al., 2011Footnote153

Long Description for Figure 21

This figure is a series of line, bar and scatterplot graphs with a map showing changes in streamflow, temperature, and precipitation between 1961–1982 and 1983–2003 in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ for Hydrology Group 3, with an example of Sturgeon River representing Group 3c. Among Group 3 stations, located closer to the centre of the ecozone+, flows increased in the winter and spring but decreased in the summer and fall.

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River Flows in the Winnipeg River Basin

A Geological Survey of CanadaFootnote1 study examining river flows over the past century in the Winnipeg River basin illustrated the significant variation at the local scale for hydrological trends in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. In this region specifically, average annual flows have increased by 58% since 1924. This differs from the more general pattern of decreasing flows observed northeast and northwest of this region, except for a higher and maybe earlier spring freshet (Figure 22). Winter discharge and streamflow have increased by 60% to 110% over the entire basin, likely caused by climatic factors. This shows that hydrological trends in the Winnipeg River basin during the last century differ from those observed for many other Canadian watersheds. Therefore, projections about decreasing surface flows and availability of water may not be valid for the Winnipeg River watershed.Footnote3 However, the latest half of the 20th century saw increases in winter temperatures (Zhang et al., 2011Footnote154 and supplementary data provided by the authors) and decreased winter precipitation in the east and west (Zhang et al., 2011Footnote154and supplementary data provided by the authors). Cree elders from Shoal Lake, Manitoba observed that there is less rain and snow than in the past. When it rains, they say that the land does not saturate and that this appears to be associated with warmer temperatures.Footnote4 Trends observed for the Winnipeg River basin appeared to depend on the timeline examined, where increased streamflow in the 20th century may be due to climatic trends that occurred prior to 1950. The rest of the ecozone+, in contrast, saw decreased flows and the main concerns were related to shifts in fish migration patterns, the availability of riparian habitat, and water quality.

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Figure 22. Map showing trends in the a) 1-day minimum and b) 1-day maximum river flow in natural rivers across Canada, 1970–2005.

map
Source: Monk and Baird, 2014Footnote14

Long Description for Figure 22

This figure contains two maps of Canada, illustrating trends from 1970-2005. Map a) depicts trends in the one-day minimum runoff by ecozone+ and shows concentrations of 'significant increases' in Western Canada, and 'significant decreases' in Eastern Canada.  Map b) depicts trends in the one-day maximum runoff by ecozone and shows 'significant increases' primarily in the centre of the country, and 'significant decreases' concentrated along the southern borders of western and eastern Canada. Together the maps show a general pattern of decreasing flows in the northeast and northwest of the Winnipeg River basin.

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Other key findings relevant to freshwater ecosystems include Intact landscapes and waterscapes on page 122, Fish on page 134, Aquatic Invasive non-native invertebrates on page 80, Boreal Shield Ecozone+ on page 93, Boreal Shield Ecozone+ on page 98, and Acid deposition on page 103.

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Regulated streams and rivers

Dams and reservoirs alter the physical landscape, interrupt hydrological regimes, and the process of impoundment introduces contaminants that can accumulate along the food chain. More specifically, dams interrupt fish migration, increase sedimentation, flood or reduce habitat, and change water levels and water chemistry.Footnote155 The degree of impact depends on the size of the dams, their operation, and the ecosystems’ biophysical characteristics.Footnote156, Footnote157 However, dams can be operated to emulate natural hydrological regimes and mitigate adverse effects on ecosystems.Footnote158

Dams are more common in the southeastern portion of the ecozone+ (Figure 23).Footnote159 The 1950s were the most productive decade for building dams in the ecozone+ and many of these dams are approaching the end of their productive lives (Figure 24).Footnote12

Figure 23. Distribution of dams greater than 10 m in height within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ grouped by year of completion from 1830 to 2005.

map
Source: data from Canadian Dam Association, 2003Footnote159

Long Description for Figure 23

This map shows the distribution of dams greater than 10m in height within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. The 1940s and 1950s were the most productive decade for building dams in the ecozone+.The majority of the dams are located in the southeastern part of the ecozone+. The dams are identified by the year their construction was completed.

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Figure 24. Number of dams greater than 10 m in height constructed in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ per decade, 1900s to 2000s (except for 2000–2005).

graph
Source: data from Canadian Dam Association, 2003Footnote159

Long Description for Figure 24

This bar graph shows the following information:

Number of dams greater than 10 m in height constructed in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ per decade, 1900s to 2000s (except for 2000–2005).
YearNumber of dams
1900-092
1910-1912
1920-2940
1930-3925
1940-4931
1950-5970
1960-6943
1970-7917
1980-893
1990-9913
2000-059

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Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+

Eight out of nine stations in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ were classified as Hydrology Group 4 (Figure 25).Footnote153 Rivers in this ecozone+ can further be divided by their hydrologic regime. The easternmost part of the island is dominated by rainfall driven systems (type d) and the four remaining stations are either driven by mixed rain and snow processes (type a) or dominated by snowmelt runoff (type c).

Figure 25. Natural streamflow stations in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ by Hydrology Group (1 or 4) and streamflow driver (a, c, or d), 1961–2003.

Hydrograph type a rivers are driven by mixed rain and snow processes, type c describes rivers dominated by snowmelt runoff, and type d describes rivers exhibiting a rainfall driven pattern.

map
Source: Cannon et al., 2011Footnote153

Long Description for Figure 25

This figure shows a map of the nine natural streamflow stations in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, by Hydrology Group (1-4) and streamflow driver (a,c, or d). Eight out of nine stations in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+were classified as Hydrology Group 4. Hydrology Groups 1c, 4c and 4a occur in the northwestern section of the ecozone, and 4c in the southeastern part.

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The main pattern shift detected in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ was associated with Hydrology Group 4. Streamflow in this group increased in the spring by 10–40% relative to the median and decreased by 20–70% relative to the median during the summer low flow season (Figure 26a). Canada-wide, half of the stations classified as Hydrology Group 4 had temperature increases of up to 4°C during winter months (Figure 26b); however, this warming did not occur in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. A decrease in temperature was found in all stations in the ecozone+ in January. The Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ experienced cooler winters and warmer springs and summers (up to a 1°C increase), with no change detected in the fall. Precipitation in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ increased on average by 10–30% relative to the median for all months except August, November, and December (Figure 26c). For months where precipitation decreased, the average drop was approximately 10% relative to the median.

Figure 26. Changes in a) streamflow, b) temperature, and c) precipitation for Hydrology Group 4 in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, 1961–2003.

a) Group 4 significance of streamflow change

graph
Source: Cannon et al., 2011Footnote153

Long Description for Figure 26

This series of bar graphs shows the changes in streamflow, temperature, and precipitation for Hydrology Group 4 in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ for 1961 to 2003.The main pattern shift detected in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ was associated with Hydrology Group 4. Streamflow in this group increased in the spring by 10–40% relative to the median and decreased by 20–70% relative to the median during the summer low flow season.

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Rainfall driven hydrologic regimes dominate the easternmost portion of the ecozone+, while the rest of the island is dominated by mixed rain and snow or snowmelt driven regimes (Figure 25).Footnote153 Table 14 summarizes trends in unmanaged rivers from 1961 to 2003. Stream flow increases in the spring were attributed to a combination of higher precipitation and earlier snowmelt due to higher temperatures (see the Climate change key finding on page 109).Footnote153 Decreases in summer discharge may be caused by higher temperatures, offsetting the effects of increased precipitation earlier in the season.Footnote153 Hydrologic changes may also be the result of interior forest losses dues to harvest, fire, and insect outbreaks.Footnote160

Table 14. Summary of hydrologic trends in rivers with minimal regulation or impact upstream.
Period analyzedStations analyzedParameterSignificant Trends
1970–2005Footnote14 mapTotal monthly runoff↑ ↓
Minimum 1, 3, 7, 30, 90 day runoff
Maximum 1, 3, 7, 30, 90 day runoff
1961–2003Footnote153 mapSpring discharge
Summer discharge

Sources: Monk and Baird, 2014Footnote14 and Cannon et al., 2011Footnote153

The Bay du Nord River, a characteristic rainfall driven system (Figure 25), has displayed clear increases in spring flow and decreases in summer flow (Figure 27a). Hydrologic changes are also evident in the Gander River, a characteristic mixed rain and snow driven system.Footnote153 Peak flows occurred earlier, with higher flows before the peak flow, and lower flows after the peak flow (Figure 27b).

Figure 27. Changes in streamflow comparing 1961–1982 and 1983–2003 for the Bay du Nord River (left) and the Gander River (right).

graph
Source: Cannon et al., 2011Footnote153

Long Description for Figure 27

These line graphs show the changes in streamflow comparing 1961–1982 and 1983–2003 for the Bay du Nord River and the Gander River increases in spring flow and decreases in summer flow. Hydrologic changes are also evident in the Gander River, a characteristic mixed rain and snow driven system. Peak flows occurred earlier, with higher flows before the peak flow, and lower flows after the peak flow.

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Regulated streams and rivers

Most dams in Newfoundland were built in the 1980s. Figure 28 shows locations of large dams completed in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ from 1895 to 2005.

Figure 28. Distribution of dams greater than 10 m in height within the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+grouped by year of completion from 1830 to 2005.

map
Source: data from Canadian Dam Association, 2003Footnote159

Long Description for Figure 28

This map shows the distribution of dams greater than 10 m in height within the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ grouped by year of completion from 1830 to 2005. The dams are primarily located in the centre of the ecozone+, although many dams built between 1940 and 1959 are located on the eastern coast of Newfoundland.  Most dams in Newfoundland were built in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Coastal

Key finding 5
Theme Biomes

National key finding

Coastal 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.

Boreal Shield Ecozone+

Coastal ecosystems within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ are located along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Lake Superior, and the Labrador Sea. The most sensitive areas within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ are on the north shore of the St. Lawrence and Anticosti Island, located at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Two-thirds of this 1,825 km of coast are classified as moderately to very sensitive to erosion.Footnote161 In very sensitive areas, coastal loss can reach 10 m per year.

Accelerated coastal erosion is correlated with changes in climatic variables such as increased storm frequency,Footnote162, Footnote163 shorter ice season, more freeze/thaw cycles and winter rain events,Footnote164 and increased sea level rise.Footnote165 Temperatures in the maritime region of eastern Quebec increased by 0.9°C over the past centuryFootnote163 with a concurrent 17 cm increase in sea level.Footnote166, Footnote167 The rate of erosion increased in the Laurentian maritime of Quebec between 1990 and 2004 as compared to pre–1990 studies.Footnote168 This was especially true for low sandy coastlines and low clayey cliffs (Figure 29).

Figure 29. Sensitivity to coastal erosion of the four major types of coastal systems of the Laurentian maritime of Quebec according to historical and recent erosion rates..

graph
Source: adapted from Bernatchez and Dubois, 2004Footnote168 

Long Description for Figure 29

This graph shows the sensitivity to coastal erosion of the four major types of coastal systems of the Laurentian maritime of Quebec according to historical and recent erosion rates. The rate of erosion increased in the Laurentian maritime of Quebec between 1990 and 2004 as compared to pre–1990 studies. This was especially true for low sandy coastlines and low clayey cliffs.

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Changes in ice dynamics due to warmer temperature likely contributed to increased erosion on the north shore of the St. Lawrence gulf and estuary.Footnote169 Lake ice broke-up earlier on inland lakes of the ecozone+ from 1970 to 2004 (Figure 36 ).Footnote170 See the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ key finding on page 66 for more information.

Double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) were first noted to be breeding in western Lake Superior in 1913.Footnote171 From 1913 to 1945, they spread eastward across the Great Lakes, colonizing Lakes Huron and Michigan, then Lakes Erie and Ontario, and finally the Upper St. Lawrence River.Footnote172 The population of double‐crested cormorants is surveyed by Canadian Wildlife Service on a five-year rotation in the migratory bird sanctuaries of the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Although cormorant populations increased during the 1980s and 1990s (Figure 30),Footnote173 this trend may not be representative of the whole ecozone+. Major impacts of the increasing populations of double-crested cormorants include destruction of vegetation, impacts on other colonial waterbirds such as black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), and impacts on fisheries.Footnote172 To reduce cormorant populations, culling, destruction of nests and eggs, and harassment of birds began in the 1990s in the Great Lakes and along the St. Lawrence River.Footnote172

Figure 30. Number of double-crested cormorants in sanctuaries on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from 1925 to 2005.

graph
Source: Weseloh, 2011Footnote173 adapted from Savard, 2008Footnote174

Long Description for Figure 30

This bar graph shows the following information:

Number of double-crested cormorants in sanctuaries on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from 1925 to 2005.
YearNumber of individual birds
19251,030
19301,086
19351,168
1940810
1945768
1950432
1955704
1960551
1965710
1972925
1977443
19821,353
19884,556
19933,472
19992,830
20053,346

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Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+

The coastline of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ is approximately 11,550 km long, not including the many islands scattered along the coast.Footnote175 The coastline is dotted with bays, inlets, sandy beaches, capes, and fjords, supporting habitats including salt marshes, eelgrass (Zostera) assemblages, rockweed (Fucus anceps) surf zone shores, capelin (Mallotus villosus) spawning beaches, temporary intertidal communities, and periwinkle (Littorina littorea) shores.Footnote176 Human settlement is concentrated in coastal areas.Footnote29

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Coastal dunes

Sand dunes are found along much of the coast of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ (Figure 31). Promotion of the dunes for tourism has resulted in increased recreation, including all-terrain vehicle use, that has accelerated coastal erosion and degradation of the dunes.Footnote177 Erosion is further exacerbated by limited offshore winter ice and onshore snow cover. Replenishment of eroded sand is insufficient to maintain the dunes in the long term. Consequently, the coastal dunes of southwest Newfoundland, and perhaps other areas, will not regenerate following disturbance.Footnote177

Figure 31. Sand dunes in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+.

map
Source: adapted from Catto, 2002Footnote177

Long Description for Figure 31

The map shows several dune classifications: Transverse Dune Complexes, Parabolic, Shield, and Some Dune complexes, Sand Sheets, Ridges and small Dome Dune, Interior Parabolic and Shield Dunes and Aeolian Sand Sheets. Of the 28 dunes in this ecozone+, 21 are identified as 'Substantially Disturbed by Anthropogenic Activities'.

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Sea-level rise and erosion

The effects of sea-level rise since the time of human occupation are evident at archaeological sites such as The Beaches, Bonavista Bay, Fort Frederick, Placentia Bay, and Ferryland.Footnote160 Multiple factors including relief, rock type, land form, sea level change, and anthropogenic activities contribute to coastal erosion.Footnote178 For example, along the southwestern, western, and eastern coasts of the ecozone+, the combination of rising sea levels, increased residential and tourism use, and changing offshore winter ice conditions have intensified erosion and degradation of dunes and shores.Footnote144, Footnote177, Footnote179, Footnote180 Figure 32 and Figure 33 provide evidence of accelerated beach erosion on the Avalon Peninsula. Of 405 coastal communities, the vulnerability of most communities was “moderately high”; Northern Bay Sands, Salmon Cove, and Point Lance Cove were ranked as “extremely high” (Figure 34).

Figure 32. Coastal erosion at Admiral's Beach, Avalon Peninsula, undercut this transportation route.

Coastal erosion at Admiral's Beach, Avalon Peninsula, undercut this transportation route.
Source: Batterson and Liverman, 2010 Footnote181

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Figure 33. Elevation along a beach transect in Mobile, NL, 1995–2005 showing erosion in the upper portion of the beach system.

graph
Source: Catto, 2006Footnote182

Long Description for Figure 33

This line graph shows the elevation along a beach transect in Mobile, NL for 1995 to 2005 showing erosion in the upper portion of the beach system.  This provides evidence of accelerated beach erosion on the Avalon Peninsula.

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Figure 34. Number of communities in eastern Newfoundland experiencing various levels of sensitivity to sea-level rise.

graph
Source: Catto, 2003Footnote160

Long Description for Figure 34

This  line graph shows the following information is expressesd in number of communities:

Number of communities in eastern Newfoundland experiencing various levels of sensitivity to sea-level rise.
Low to
Moderate
ModerateModerate
to High
HighVery HighExtremely
High
419234106383

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Eelgrass

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a flowering marine plant that forms extensive subtidal beds in sand and mud along coastlines. It traps particulate matter and plankton and provides habitat for invertebrates, fish, and marine mammals. Eelgrass is an important food for migrating and wintering waterfowl, and provides foraging areas for other birds.Footnote183 Footnote184 Footnote185 Eelgrass meadows are among the most productive ecosystems in the world,Footnote186 and also among the most threatened.Footnote187 Eelgrass assemblages in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ are found in sandy, relatively sheltered lowshore locations. Based on local knowledge and in contrast to other areas on the Atlantic coast, eelgrass populations off the coast of Newfoundland are increasing in abundance, possibly due to milder temperatures and changes in sea ice.Footnote186

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Coastal birds

The fall migration of 14 species of shorebirds was monitored for 12 sites in insular Newfoundland between 1980 and 2005, including six years of data collected by the Newfoundland and Labrador Shorebird Survey (NLSS) volunteers. Population levels fluctuated widely between years and decades. Most species increased in the 1980s, declined in the 1990s, and continued to decline from 2000 to 2005 although these rates were not significant (Table 15 ).Footnote188

Many species which have declined across the MaritimesFootnote189 were species that increased in Newfoundland, possibly indicating a shift in preferred migration stop over areas within the Atlantic region.Footnote188

Table 15. Population trends for common shorebird species on southern migration during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000–2005 in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+.
SpeciesTrend
1980–1989
Annual change (%)
1980–1989
PNote a of Table 15
1980–1989
Trend
1990–1999
Annual change (%)
1990–1999
PNote a of Table 15
1990–1999
Trend
2000–2005
Annual change (%)
2000–2005
PNote a of Table 15
2000–2005
Greater yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)0.021.47 -0.10811.4n0.066.08 -
White-rumped sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)0.2123.0*Note b of Table 15-0.14-13.2n-0.07-7.01 -
Semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)0.1516.0*Note b of Table 15-0.02-2.21 --0.03-2.99 -
Semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)0.1617.2*Note b of Table 15-0.16-14.6*Note b of Table 15-0.02-2.36 -
Sanderling (Calidris alba)0.066.01*Note b of Table 15-0.11-10.2*Note b of Table 15-0.18-16.6*Note b of Table 15
Black-bellied plover (Pluvialis squatarola)0.1718.4*Note b of Table 15-0.24-20.9*Note b of Table 15-0.10-9.17n
Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres)0.1313.5*Note b of Table 15-0.15-14.0*Note b of Table 15-0.07-6.70n
American golden-plover (Pluvialis dominica)0.043.75*Note b of Table 15-0.098.42*Note b of Table 15-0.05-4.74*Note b of Table 15
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)-0.005-0.51 --0.12-11.3*Note b of Table 15-0.04-4.35n
Least sandpiper (Caldiris minutilla)0.077.57*Note b of Table 15-0.06-5.98 --0.02-2.27 -
Dunlin (Calidris alpine)0.043.40*Note b of Table 15-0.09-8.46*Note b of Table 150.022.18 -
Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius)-0.04-3.49 -0.1415.0*Note b of Table 15-0.02-2.14 -
Lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)0.099.15*Note b of Table 15-0.104-9.90*Note b of Table 150.0161.59 -
Short-billed dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)0.088.15*Note b of Table 15-0.05-4.55 --0.06-5.38n

Source: Goulet and Robertson, 2007Footnote188

Notes of Table 15

Note [a] of Table 15

P is the statistical significance

Return to note a referrer of table 15

Note [b] of Table 15

* indicates p <0.05; n indicates 0.05<p<0.1; no value indicates not significant.

Return to note b referrer of table 15

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On the Atlantic Seaboard, in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf and Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves marine ecozones+, the sharp discontinuity in oceanography and food webs that occurred in the early 1990s caused some marine bird populations, especially gulls, to shift from positive to negative trends. However, the northern gannet (Morus bassanus) (Table 16) and razorbill (Alca torda) continued to increase from the 1970s onwards, as have most auk (family Alcidae) populations within the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) in southeast Newfoundland. Conversely, common terns (Sterna hirundo) generally decreased throughout the period in these ecozones+ (Table 16 ), probably as a result of human influences on their terrestrial breeding habitat. Decreases in large gulls and black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) (Table 16) may be related to the reduction in inshore fisheries activity (which provided fish offal and discards) following the groundfish moratorium of 1992. Overall positive trends in seabird populations prior to 1990 may reflect continuing recovery from egging and plumage harvesting prevalent before the institution of the Migratory Bird Protection Act in the early twentieth century, or in Newfoundland, after amalgamation with Canada in 1949. Some harvesting activities continued to affect seabirds on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence as late as the 1960s and 1970s.Footnote190 In addition, the groundfish moratorium off eastern Newfoundland caused the closure of gill-net fisheries that were drowning many auks. Removal of this source of mortality may have had positive consequences for some populations of underwater divers.

Table 16. Trends in the abundance and reliability of the trend for coastal birds in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+  from 1980–2012.
SpeciesAnnual TrendReliability
Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)-13.8Low
Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia)6.57Low
Common tern (Sterna hirundo)-2.75Low
Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)20.3Low
Great black-backed gull (Larus marinus)-4.44Medium
Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)12Low
Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis)7.52Low

Source: Environment Canada, 2014Footnote79

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Ice across biomes

Key finding 7
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.

Boreal Shield Ecozone+

Lake ice

Most Canadian lakes had a tendency or significant trend towards earlier ice break-up (Figure 35). The rate of change in lake-ice thaw was much more rapid from 1950 to 2006 than the rate during the first half of the 20th century.Footnote191 For example, Brochet Bay on Reindeer Lake, MB, broke up 0.5 days earlier per year between 1951–1980 for a total of 14.5 days.Footnote192

Figure 35. Changes in the date of ice thaw on lakes across Canada, 1950–2005.

These nation-wide data exceed the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ boundaries.

map
Source: Environment Canada, 2008Footnote191

Long Description for Figure 35

This map shows the changes in the date of ice thaw on lakes across Canada for 1950–2005. Most Canadian lakes had a tendency or significant trend towards earlier ice break-up.

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Ice in lakes and rivers of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ tended to break up earlier over the past 35 to 200 years,Footnote14, Footnote193 Footnote194 Footnote195 although there was one exception where ice break-up was later from 1950–1998.Footnote194 Figure 36 shows trends in ice break-ups using in situ records and remote sensing observations of 12 large lakes (over 100 km2) in Canada.Footnote196 Ice break-up shifted 12 days earlier over the period of 1970 to 2004 (Figure 36a).Footnote196 Earlier ice break-up corresponded to an earlier arrival of the spring 0°C-isotherm date.Footnote197 Warmer temperatures in spring (Figure 67 a) and winter (Figure 67 d) in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ may partly account for the earlier ice    break-up.

Figure 36. Lake break-up trends for 12 lakes in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 1970–2004.

Analyses for break-up are based on in-situ and remote sensing data. Trends for freeze-up for the six most northerly stations are based only on remote sensing data from 1984–2004. Triangles indicate earlier break-up/freeze-up; squares indicate later break-up/freeze-up. Symbols are coloured when trends are significant (p<0.1).

map
Source: adapted from Latifovic and Pouliot, 2007Footnote196

Long Description for Figure 36

 

These maps show shows lake break-up trends for 12 lakes in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ for 1970 to 2004. Ice break-up shifted 12 days earlier over the period of 1970 to 2004. From 1970 to 2004, freeze-up occurred 15 days later for three lakes across the southern half of the ecozone+. Freeze-up occurred 10 days earlier for one more northern lake.

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There is more variability in lake and river freeze-up than in ice break-up,Footnote14 at this ecozone+ level and nationally over 35 to 200 years.Footnote194, Footnote195, Footnote197, Footnote198 The air temperature from one to three months before the event appears to be a potential factor causing changes in ice break-up and freeze-up dates.Footnote199, Footnote200From 1970 to 2004, freeze-up occurred 15 days later for three lakes across the southern half of the ecozone+. Freeze-up occurred 10 days earlier for one more northern lake (Figure 36b).Footnote196

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Permafrost

Permafrost in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ is largely confined to organic terrain and has a sporadic distribution over its northeastern and western regions (Figure 37).Footnote201

Figure 37. Permafrost map for Canada.

map
Source: Heginbottom et al., 1995Footnote201

Long Description for Figure 37

This map presents the distribution of continuous, extensive discontinuous, sporadic, and mountain permafrost throughout Canada in the 1990s. Continuous permafrost extended across Northern Canada, including the archipelago of northern islands, to the southern shoreline of Hudson's Bay. A thin strip of extensive discontinuous permafrost bordered the southern limit of the continuous permafrost zone. Sporadic permafrost was located along the northern limit of British Columbia, AB, MB, ON, and QC. Permafrost in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ has a sporadic distribution over its northeastern and western regions.

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Thawing and peatland collapse has occurred over the last 50 to 100 yearsFootnote202 Footnote203 Footnote204 in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The thaw rate of permafrost increased from 4.3 cm/yr between 1948–1991 to 10.5 cm/yr between 1995–2002 at Gillam, from 9.0 cm/yr in 1941–1988 to 28.0 cm/yr in 1995–2002 at Thompson, from 10.2 cm/yr in 1951–1992 to 22.3 cm/yr in 1995–2002 at Wabowden, and 10.9 cm/yr in 1968–1991 to 31.1 cm/yr in 1995–2002 at Snow LakeFootnote204 (Figure 38). Near Saskatchewan’s Lake Athabasca and Black Lake, Aboriginal communities noticed disappearing permafrost in muskeg, which they attributed to warming temperatures.Footnote4 Although frozen peatlands go through natural cycles of permafrost formation and thawing, this permafrost degradation is likely due to climate change.Footnote16

Figure 38. Permafrost thaw rate (cm/yr) at four sites in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1940 to 2000.

Purple circles represent thaw rate measured for the 1941–1991 period using compression rings laid down by individual leaning P. mariana trees. Green circles represent mean thaw rates measured using permanent benchmarks for the 1995–2002 period (plotted for the median year, 1999). Mean site thaw rates for the 1941–1991 and 1995–2002 periods are also shown.

map
Source: adapted from Camill, 2005Footnote204

Long Description for Figure 38

This scatter plot graph shows the permafrost thaw rate at four sites in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+from 1940 to 2000. Thawing and peatland collapse has occurred over the last 50 to 100 years in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The thaw rate of permafrost increased from 4.3 cm/yr in 1948-1991 to 10.5 cm/yr 1995–2002 at Gillam, from 9.0 cm/yr in 1941–1988 to 28.0 cm/yr in 1995–2002 at Thompson, from 10.2 cm/yr in 1951–1992 to 22.3 cm/yr in 1995–2002 at Wabowden, from and 10.9 cm/yr in 1968–1991 to 31.1 cm/yr in 1995–2002 at Snow Lake.

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Permafrost degradation in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ can affect biodiversity through its influence on ground stability, drainage patterns, soil-moisture conditions, and surface and subsurface hydrology.Footnote16 Although the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ does not have continuous permafrost, the discontinuous ice-rich soil has similar physical conditions to more northern ecosystems.Footnote205 In peatland areas, as ice-rich peat thaws and collapses, ponds may replace frozen peat plateaus, creating the conditions for fen ecosystems to develop.Footnote206, Footnote207 Although most of these effects were observed in Arctic sites, permafrost in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ is primarily on organic terrain, suggesting a possible loss of peatland in the landscape.Footnote16 Understanding of permafrost hydrology for the ecozone+ is limited by a lack of data. For example, it is uncertain why streamflows in Grass River have decreased annually (Figure 20). Permafrost melt may have altered underground hydrology, which generated drier conditions on the surface, and reduced contributions to the river.

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Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+

Lake ice

There were few data for ice trends for the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ except for one location, Deadman’s Pond, in the north-central part of the ecozone+. From 1961-1990, freeze-up at Deadman’s Pond shifted 0.5 days/yr earlier, which differed from the national trends for later lake ice freeze-up.Footnote197

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Footnote 1

St.-George, S. 2007. Streamflow in the Winnipeg River basin, Canada: Trends, extremes and climate linkages. Journal of Hydrology 332:396-411.

Return to Footnote 1

Footnote 3

Milly, P.C.D., Dunne, K.A. and Vecchia, A.V. 2005. Global patterns of trends in streamflow and water availability in a changing climate. Nature 438:347-350.

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Footnote 4

Ermine, W., Nilson, R., Sauchyn, D., Sauve, E. and Smith, R.Y. 2005. Isi askiwan - the state of the land: Prince Albert Grand Council Eldersʹ Forum on Climate Change. Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative. 40 p.

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Footnote 9

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.

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Footnote 12

Urquizo, N., Bastedo, J., Brydges, T. and Shear, H. 2000. Ecological assessment of the Boreal Shield Ecozone. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Ottawa, ON.

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Footnote 14

Monk, W.A. and Baird, D.J. 2014. Biodiversity in Canadian lakes and rivers. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 19. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. Draft report.

Return to Footnote 14

Footnote 16

Smith, S. 2011. Trends in permafrost conditions and ecology in Northern Canada. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 9. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. iii + 22 p.

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Footnote 23

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. http://www.biodivcanada.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=137E1147-0.

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Footnote 29

Paone, L.C. 2003. Hazard sensitivitiy in Newfoundland coastal commnunitiesimpacts and adaptations to climate change: a case study of Conception Bay South and Holyrood, Newfoundland. Thesis (M.Sc.). Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Geography. St. Johnʹs, NL. 206 p.

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Footnote 37

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.

Return to Footnote 37

Footnote 38

Manitoba Conservation - Forestry Branch. 2009. Manitoba forest inventory: area by cover type in the Pineland Forest Management Unit, 1970-2000. Unpublished data.

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Footnote 39

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2007. State of the forest report 2006. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Queenʹs Printer for Ontario. Toronto, ON. 734 p. + appendices.

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Footnote 40

Hearnden, K.W., Millson, S.V. and Wilson, W.C. 1992. A report on the status of forest regeneration. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Toronto, ON. 117 p.

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Footnote 41

Harvey, B.D. and Bergeron, Y. 1989. Site patterns of natural regeneration following clear-cutting in northwestern Quebec. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 19:1458-1469.

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Footnote 42

Carleton, T.J. and MacLellan, P. 1994. Woody vegetation responses to fire versus clear-cutting logging: a comparative survey in the central Canadian boreal forest. Ecoscience 1:141-152.

Return to Footnote 42

Footnote 43

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2012. Annual report on forest management 2009/10. Queenʹs Printer for Ontario. Toronto, ON. 105 p.

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Footnote 44

Thompson, I.D., Flannigan, M.D., Wotton, B.M. and Suffling, R. 1998. The effects of climate change on landscape diversity: an example in Ontario forests. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 49:213-233.

Return to Footnote 44

Footnote 45

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2013. State of Ontarioʹs forests. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Queenʹs Printer for Ontario. Toronto, ON. 73 p.

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Footnote 46

Ministère des Ressources naturelles. 2005. Système hiérarchique de classification écologique du territoire. Direction des inventaires forestiers, Ministère des ressources naturelles, Gouvernement du Québec. Québec, QC.

Return to Footnote 46

Footnote 47

Parisien, M.-A., Peters, V.S., Wang, Y., Little, J.M., Bosch, E.M. and Stocks, B.J. 2006. Spatial pattern of forest fires in Canada, 1980-1999. International Journal of Wildland Fire 15:361-374.

Return to Footnote 47

Footnote 48

Parisien, M.A., Hirsch, K.G., Lavoie, S.G., Todd, J.B. and Kafka, V.G. 2004. Saskatchewan fire regime analysis. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre. Edmonton, Alberta. 49 p.

Return to Footnote 48

Footnote 49

Saskatchewan Environment. 2007. Report on Saskatchewanʹs provincial forests 2007 [online]. http://www.environment.gov.sk.ca (accessed 18 March, 2009).

Return to Footnote 49

Footnote 50

Saskatchewan Research Council. 2003. Remote Sensing and Spatial Information, NDLC Land Cover. Rastor digital data. Unpublished data.

Return to Footnote 50

Footnote 51

Payette, S. 1992. Fire as a controlling process in the North American Boreal Forest. In A systems analysis of the global boreal forest. Edited by Shugart, H.H., Leemans, R. and Bonan, G.B. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, U.K. pp. 144-169.

Return to Footnote 51

Footnote 52

Candau, J.N. and Fleming, R.A. 2005. Landscape- scale spatial distribution of spruce budworm defoliation in relation to bioclimatic conditions. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 35:2218-2232.

Return to Footnote 52

Footnote 53

Ruel, J.-C. 1995. Understanding windthrow: silvicultural implications. Forestry Chronicle 71:434-445.

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Footnote 54

Bergeron, Y., Gauthier, S., Greene, D.F., Noël, J. and Rousseau, M. 2004. Recruitment of Picea mariana, Pinus banksiana, and Populus tremuloides across a burn severity gradient following wildfire in the southern boreal forest of Quebec. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 34:1845-1857.

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Footnote 55

Bergeron, Y., Leduc, A., Harvey, B.D. and Gauthier, S. 2002. Natural fire regime: a guide for sustainable management of the Canadian Boreal Forest. Silva Fennica 36:81-95.

Return to Footnote 55

Footnote 56

Drapeau, P., Leduc, A. and Bergeron, Y. 2009. Bridging ecosystem and multiple species approaches for setting conservation targets in managed boreal landscapes. In Setting conservation targets for managed forest landscapes. Edited by Villard, M.-A. and Jonsson, B.G. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 7. pp. 129-160.

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Footnote 57

Harper, K., Bergeron, Y., Gauthier, S. and Drapeau, P. 2002. Post-fire development of canopy structure and composition in black spruce forests of Abitibi, Quebec: a landscape scale study. Silva Fennica 36:249-263.

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Footnote 58

Bergeron, Y., Cyr, D., Drever, C.R., Flannigan, M., Gauthier, S., Kneeshaw, D., Lauzon, E., Leduc, A., Le Goff, H., Lesieur, D. and Logan, K. 2006. Past, current, and future fire frequencies in Quebecʹs commercial forests: implications for the cumulative effects of harvesting and fire on age-class structure and natural disturbance-based management. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 36:2737-2744.

Return to Footnote 58

Footnote 59

Colombo, S.J., Cherry, M.L., Graham, C., Greifenhagen, S., McAlpine, R.S., Papadopol, C.S., Parker, W.C., Scarr, T., Ter-Mikaelian, M.T. and Flannigan, M.D. 1998. The impacts of climate change on Ontarioʹs forests. Forest Research Information Paper No. 143. Ontario Forest Research Institute, Ministry of Natural Resources. Sault Ste. Marie, ON.

Return to Footnote 59

Footnote 60

Rowe, J.S. 1972. Forest regions of Canada. Canadian Forest Service publication No. 1300. Publishing Division, Information Canada. Ottawa ON. x + 172 p.

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Footnote 61

Ministère des Ressources naturelles. 2002. Rapport synthèse sur lʹétat des forêts Québécoises 1995-1999. Gouvernement du Québec. Charlesbourg, QC. 8 p.

Return to Footnote 61

Footnote 62

Viereck, L.A. and Johnston, W.F. 1990. Black spruce (Picea Mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.). In Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods, Agriculture Handbook 654. Edited by Burns, R.M. and Honkala, B.H. US Department of Agriculture. Forest Service. Washington, DC.

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Footnote 63

Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune du Québec. 2008. Statistiques forestières [online]. Gouvernement du Québec. (accessed 4 December, 2008).

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Footnote 64

Manitoba Conservation. 2006. Five-year report on the status of forestry. Manitoba Conservation Foretsry Branch. Winnipeg, MB. 44 p.

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Footnote 65

Bergeron, Y., Gauthier, S., Flannigan, M. and Kafka, V. 2004. Fire regimes at the transition between mixedwood and coniferous boreal forest in northwestern Quebec. Ecology 85:1916-1932.

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Footnote 66

Gauthier, S., Leduc, A. and Bergeron, Y. 1996. Forest dynamics modelling under natural fire cycles: a tool to define natural mosaic diversity for forest management. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 39:417-434.

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Footnote 67

Ministère des Ressources naturelles et Faune. 2009. Plan nord - Document de travail: Pour un développement économique socialement responsable et durable. Gouvernement du Québec. 29 p.

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Footnote 68

Gouvernement du Quebec. 2000. Limite nordique des fôrets attribuables - rapport final. Ministère des Ressources naturelles. Charlesbourg, Qc. 21 p.

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Footnote 69

Girard, F., Payette, S. and Gagnon, R. 2008. Rapid expansion of lichen woodlands within the closed-crown boreal forest zone over the last 50 years caused by stand disturbances in eastern Canada. Journal of Biogeography 35:529-537.

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Footnote 70

Girard, F., Payette, S. and Gagnon, R. 2009. Origin of the lichen-spruce woodland in the closed-crown forest zone of eastern Canada. Global Ecology and Biogeography 18:291-303.

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Footnote 71

Newfoundland Forest Services - Department of Natural Resources. 2009. Landsat imagery of Labrador forests from 1987-1990. Unpublished data.

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Footnote 72

Pittman, B. 2009. Personal communication.

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Footnote 73

National Forestry Database. 2008. Silviculture - National Tables [online]. (accessed 23 November, 2009).

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Footnote 74

Banducci, S. 2009. Case study: forest industry decline in Ontario. Produced for the Ecosystem Status and Trends Report. Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.

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Footnote 75

Blancher, P. and Wells, J. 2005. The boreal forest region: North Americaʹs bird nursery. Canadian Boreal Initiative and Boreal Songbird Initiative. Ottawa, ON and Seattle, WA. 9 p. + appendix.

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Footnote 76

Downes, C., Blancher, P. and Collins, B. 2011. Landbird trends in Canada, 1968-2006. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 12. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. x + 94 p .

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Footnote 77

Blancher, P. 2003. Importance of Canadaʹs boreal forest to landbirds. Canadian Boreal Initiative and Boreal Songbird Initiative. Ottawa, ON and Seattle, WA. 43 p.

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Footnote 78

Butcher, G.S. and Niven, D.K. 2007. Combining data from the Christmas Bird Count and the Breeding Bird Survey to determine the continental status and trends of North American birds. National Audubon Society. Ivyland, PA. 34 p.

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Footnote 79

Environment Canada. 2014. North American breeding bird survey - Canadian trends website, data-version 2012. [online]. Environment Canada.

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Footnote 80

COSEWIC. 2007. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Olivesided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa, ON. vii + 25 pp. p.

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Footnote 81

Blancher, P., Collins, B. and Downes, C. 2008. Landbird Trends in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ (BCRs 8 and 12, minus Island of Newfoundland) Ecosystem Status and Trends Report.

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Footnote 82

Nebel, S., Mills, A., McCracken, J.D. and Taylor, P.D. 2010. Declines of aerial Insectivores in North America follow a geographic gradient. Avian Conservation and Ecology 5:1-.

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Footnote 83

Rich, T.D., Beardmore, C.J., Berlanga, H., Blancher, P.J., Bradstreet, M.S.W., Butcher, G.S., Demarest, D.W., Dunn, E.H., Hunter, W.C., Iñigo-Elias, E.E., Kennedy, J.A., Martell, A.M., Panjabe, A.O., Pashley, D.N., Rosenberg, K.V., Rustay, C.M., Wendt, J.S. and Will, T.C. 2004. Partners in flight North American landbird conservation plan. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Ithaca, NY. 84 p.

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Footnote 84

Environment Canada. 2013. Bird Conservation Strategy for Bird Conservation Region 6: Boreal Taiga Plains. Canadian Wildlife Service. Edmonton, Alberta. iv + 288.

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Footnote 85

OʹConnor, R.J., Dunn, E., Johnson, D.R., Jones, S.L., Petit, D., Pollock, K., Smith, C.R., Trapp, J.L. and Welling, E. 2000. A programmatic review of the North American Breeding Bird Survey, report of a peer review panel.

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Footnote 86

U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Committee. 2008. Bird Conservation Regions [online]. http://www.nabci-us.org/map.html (accessed 13 March, 2009).

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Footnote 87

Ellwood, E.R., Primack, R.B. and Talmadge, M.L. 2010. Effects of climate change on spring arrival times of birds in Thoreauʹs Concord from 1851 to 2007. The Condor 112:754-762.

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Footnote 88

Saino, N., Ambrosini, R., Rubolini, D., von Hardenberg, J., Provenzale, A., Hüppop, K., Hüppop, O., Lehikoinen, A., Lehikoinen, E., Rainio, K., Romano, M. and Sokolov, L. 2011. Climate warming, ecological mismatch at arrival and population decline in migratory birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278:835-842.

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Footnote 89

Waite, T.A. and Strickland, D. 2006. Climate change and the demographic demise of a hoarding bird living on the edge. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 273:2809-2813.

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Footnote 90

Nguyen, L.P., Hamr, J. and Parker, G.H. 2003. Survival and reproduction of wild turkey hens in central Ontario. The Wilson Bulletin 115:131-139.

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Footnote 91

Drever, M.C., Aitken, K.E.H., Norris, A.R. and Martin.K. 2008. Woodpeckers as reliable indicators of bird richness, forest health and harvest. Biological Conservation 141:624-634.

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Footnote 92

Meades, S.J. 1990. Natural regions of Newfoundland and Labrador. Protected Areas Association. St. Johnʹs, NL. 474 p.

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Footnote 93

Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods. 2003. Provincial Sustainable Forest Management Strategy. Edited by Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources. 88 p. + appendices.

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Footnote 94

Setterington, M.A., Thompson, I.D. and Montevecchi, W.A. 2000. Woodpecker abundance and habitat use in mature balsam fir forests in Newfoundland. The Journal of Wildlife Management 335-345.

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Footnote 95

Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources. 2009. Forest inventory. Unpublished data.

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Footnote 96

McLaren, B., McCarthy, C. and Mahoney, S. 2000. Extreme moose demographics in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland. Alces 36:217-232.

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Footnote 97

McLaren, B.E., Roberts, B.A., Djan-Chekar, N. and Lewis, K. 2004. Effects of overabundant moose on the Newfoundland landscape. Alces 40:45-59.

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Footnote 98

McLaren, B.E., L.Hermanutz, J.Gosse, B.Collet and C.Kasimos. 2009. Broadleaf competition interferes with balsam fir regeneration following experimental removal of moose. Forest Ecology and Management 257:1395-1404.

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Footnote 99

Forbes, G. 2006. Assessment of information needs regarding moose management in Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks, Newfoundland. New Brunswick Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of New Brunswick. Fredericton, NB. 29 p.

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Footnote 100

Burzynski, M., Knight, T., Gerrow, S., Hoffman, J., Thompson, R., Deering, P., Major, D., Taylor, S., Wentzell, C., Simpson, A. and Burdett, W. 2005. State of the park report: an assessment of ecological integrity. Parks Canada. Gros Morne National Park of Canada. 19 p.

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Footnote 101

Bergerud, A.T. and Manuel, F. 1968. Moose damage to balsam fir -white birch forests in central Newfoundland. Journal of Wildlife Management 32:729-746.

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Footnote 102

Rose, M. and Hermanutz, L. 2004. Are boreal ecosystems susceptible to alien plant invasion? Evidence from protected areas. Oecologia 139:467-477.

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Footnote 103

Gosse, J. 2006. Moose-vegetation issues in Terra Nova and Gros Morne National Parks: options for active management. Parks Canada. Unpublished report.

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Footnote 104

Humber, J.M. 2009. Alien plant invasion of boreal forest gaps: implications for stand regeneration in a protected area shaped by hyperabundant herbivores. Thesis (M.Sc.). Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Biology. St. Johnʹs, NL. 214 p.

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Footnote 105

Setterington, M.A., Thompson, I.D. and Montevecchi, W.A. 2000. Woodpecker abundance and habitat use in mature balsam fir forests in Newfoundland. Journal of Wildlife Management 64:335-345.

Return to Footnote 105

Footnote 106

Yetman, D. 1999. Epiphytic lichen diversity and abundance based on forest stand type in Terra Nova National Park: implications for lichen conservation and forest management. Thesis (B.Sc.). Memorial University of Newfoundland, Department of Biology. St. Johnʹs, NL. 146 p.

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Footnote 107

Parks Canada. 2007. The impact of moose on forest regeneration. Unpublished data.

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Footnote 108

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Catto, N.R. 2002. Anthropogenic pressures on coastal dunes, southwest Newfoundland. The Canadian Geographer 46:17-32.

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Catto, N.R. 1994. Anthropogenic pressures and the dunal coasts of Newfoundland. In Coastal Zone Canada 1994 Conference: Co-operation in the Coastal Zone, proceedings. Edited by Wells, P.G. and Ricketts, P.J. Bedford Institute of Oceanography. Vol. 5, pp. 2266-2286.

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Batterson, M. and Liverman, D. 2010. Past and future sea-level change in Newfoundland and Labrador: guidelines for policy and planning No. 10-1. Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources Geological Survey. 141 p.

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Catto, N.R. 2006. More than 16 years, more than 16 stressors: evolution of a reflective gravel beach, 1989-2005. Géographie physique et Quaternaire 60:49-62.

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Hanson, A.R. 2004. Status and conservation of eelgrass (Zostera marina) in eastern Canada. Technical Report Series No. 412. Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region. Sackville, NB. 40 p.

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DFO. 2009. Does eelgrass (Zostera marina) meet the criteria as an ecologically significant species? Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report No. 2009/018. Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Moncton, NB. 11 p.

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Waycott, M., Duarte, C.M., Carruthers, T.J.B., Orth, R.J., Dennison, W.C., Olyarnik, S., Calladine, A., Fourqurean, J.W., Heck, K.L., Hughes, A.R., Kendrick, G.A., Kenworthy, W.J., Short, F.T. and Williams, S.L. 2009. Accelerating loss of seagrasses across the globe threatens coastal ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106:12377-12381.

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Goulet, D.J. and Robertson, G.J. 2007. Population trends of shorebirds during fall migration in insular Newfoundland 1980-2005. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series No. 473. Canadian Wildlife Service. Atlantic Region. vi + 52 pp.

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Gratto-Trevor, C., Morrison, R.I.G., Collins, B., Rausch, J., Drever, M. and Johnston, V. 2011. Trends in Canadian shorebirds. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 13. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. iv + 32 p.

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Magnuson, J.J., Robertson, D.M., Benson, B.J., Wynne, R.H., Livingstone, D.M., Arai, T., Assel, R.A., Barry, R.G., Card, V., Kuusisto, E., Granin, N.G., Prowse, T.D., Stewart, K.M. and Vuglinski, V.S. 2000. Historical trends in lake and river ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere. Science 289:1743-1746.

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Bonsal, B.R., Prowse, T.D., Duguay, C.R. and Lacroix, M.P. 2006. Impacts of large-scale teleconnections on freshwater-ice break/freeze-up dates over Canada. Journal of Hydrology 330:340-353.

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Heginbottom, J.A., Dubreuil, M.A. and Harker, P.A.C. 1995. Permafrost, 1995. In The National Atlas of Canada. Edition 5. National Atlas Information Service, Geomatics Canada and Geological Survey of Canada. Ottawa, ON. Map.

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Beilman, D.W., Vitt, D.H. and Halsey, L.A. 2001. Localized permafrost peatlands in western Canada: definition, distributions, and degradation. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 33:70-77.

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Beilman, D.W. and Robinson, S.D. 2003. Peatland permafrost thaw and landform type along a climatic gradient. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Permafrost. Zurich, Switzerland, 21-25 July, 2003. Edited by Phillips, M., Springman, S.M. and Arenson, L.U. Swets & Zeitlinger. Lisse, Netherlands. Vol. 1, pp.61-65.

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Burgess, M.M. and Tarnocai, C. 1997. Peatlands in the discontinuous permafrost zone along the Norman Wells pipeline, Canada. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Physics, Chemistry, and Ecology of Seasonally Frozen Soils, Special Report 97-10. Fairbanks, AK, 10-12 June, 1997. Edited by Iskandar, I.K., Wright, E.A., Radke, J.K., Sharratt, B.S., Groenevelt, P.H. and Hinzman, L.D. U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. Hanover, NH. pp. 417-424.

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