Boreal Shield and Newfoundland Boreal ecozones+ evidence for key findings summary
Theme: Human/Ecosystem Interactions
- Protected areas
- Invasive non-native species
- Nutrient loading and algal blooms
- Acid deposition
- Climate change
- Ecosystem services
National key finding
Both the extent and representativeness of the protected areas network have increased in recent years. In many places, the area protected is well above the United Nations 10% target. It is below the target in highly developed areas and marine areas.
Boreal Shield Ecozone+
The rate at which protected areas in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ have been created has increased since the 1970s (Figure 39). Before 1992 (the signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity), 3% of the Boreal Shield was protected.Footnote 1 As of May 2009, 8.1% (143,491 km2) were protected.Footnote 10 Of this, 7.9% of the ecozone+ was in 1,336 sites classified as IUCN protected area categories I–IV. These categories include nature reserves, wilderness areas, and other parks and reserves managed to conserve ecosystems and natural and cultural features, as well as those managed mainly for habitat and wildlife conservation.Footnote 208 A further 0.06% (482 protected areas) were in IUCN categories V–VI, which focus on sustainable resource use. The remaining <0.01% (10 protected areas established since 2004) have not been categorized under the IUCN criteria.
For example, although not presently included in IUCN categories I-V, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation declared 13,025 km2 of the Big Trout Watershed protected by their community through their Water Declaration.Footnote 209 The Province of Ontario also withdrew 23,181 km2 "in the vicinity of KI" from prospecting and mine claim staking, further supporting protection goals by KIFN.
Figure 39. Cumulative area protected in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 1893–2009.
Data provided by federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions, updated to May 2009. Only legally protected areas are included. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories of protected areas are based on primary management objectives (see text for more information).
The last bar marked 'TOTAL' includes protected areas for which the year established was not provided.
Source: Environment Canada, 2009Footnote210 using Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS) (v.2009.05), 2009; data provided by federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions.
Long Description for Figure 39
This bar graph shows the following information:
|Year||IUCN Categories I-IV|
(Cumulative protected area km2)
|IUCN Categories V-VI|
(Cumulative protected area km2)
Protected areas are fairly well distributed across the Ecozone+, although they are less numerous in the northwest (Figure 40).
Figure 40. Distribution of protected areas in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, May 2009.
Source: Environment Canada, 2009 using Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS) (v.2009.05), 2009; data provided by federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions.
Long Description for Figure 40
This map shows the distribution of protected areas in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in May 2009. Protected areas are fairly well distributed across the ecozone+, although they are less numerous in the northwest.
In 2009, the Ontario and Quebec governments announced plans to protect northern boreal sites. Footnote 211, Footnote 212 Ontario's Far North Act became law in 2010 which mandated protection for about 50% of the area north of currently managed forest land for Ontario. Pikangikum was the first community to complete a community based land use plan in 2006. In 2011, Cat Lake and Slate Falls celebrated the completion of their plan with a signing ceremony, as did Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids, two Manitoba communities with planning areas in Ontario.Footnote 213
Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
As of May 2009, 6.3% (7,098 km2) of the ecozone+ had been protected through 45 protected areas in IUCN categories I–III (Figure 41 and Figure 42). In addition, 1.2% of the ecozone+ was protected through five category VI protected areas, a category that focuses on sustainable use by established cultural tradition within the protected area.
Two wilderness reserves (>1000 km2) and fifteen ecological reserves (<1000 km2) have been created in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ since the provincial Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Actwas passed in 1980.Footnote 214
There are also two national parks, Gros Morne and Terra Nova, and 32 provincial parks and provincial park reserves.
Figure 41. Cumulative area protected in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, 1957–2009.
Data provided by federal and provincial jurisdictions, updated to May 2009. Only legally protected areas are included. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) categories of protected areas are based on primary management objectives. Several small biodiversity reserves and other protected areas have been established since 2003. Labels are protected areas in IUCN Categories I–IV. The grey 'unclassified' category represents protected areas for which the IUCN category was not provided.
Source: Environment Canada, 2009 using data from the Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS) (v.2009.05), 2009; data provided by federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions.
Long Description for Figure 41
This bar graph shows the following information:
|Year||IUCN Categories I-III - Cumulative protected area km2||IUCN Category VI - Cumulative protected area km2|
Figure 42. Map of protected areas in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, 2009.
Source: Environment Canada, 2009 using Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS) (v.2009.05), 2009; data provided by federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions.
Long Description for Figure 42
This map shows the location of protected areas in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ in 2009. Five protected areas are immediately evident due to their large areas. The majority of the protected areas are on the main island, with one large area on the northwest coast, one on the northeast coast, one in the region of Grand Lake, one in the southeast and one on the Avalon Peninusla.
Between 1995 and 1997, the provincial government privatized a number of Provincial Parks and Natural and Scenic Attractions to reduce expenses in the Parks and Recreation system. Some of these privatized properties are no longer operating and are no longer protected such as Pipers Hole River Provincial Park, abandoned in 2008.Footnote 215
National key finding
Stewardship activity in Canada is increasing, both in number and types of initiatives and in participation rates. The overall effectiveness of these activities in conserving and improving biodiversity and ecosystem health has not been fully assessed.
Boreal Shield Ecozone+
Much of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ is unpopulated and in a natural state, so community-driven stewardship activities are relatively rare in this ecozone+. However, stewardship activities are coordinated among larger conservation, First Nations, and industry networks.
Pimachiowin Aki is a cultural landscape and large protected area of intact boreal forest that has been nominated as a UNESCO natural and cultural World Heritage Site. The Ontario and Manitoba governments manage the area in partnership with the Anishnaabe First Nation. The area has a rich diversity of boreal flora and fauna, as well as ancestral lands of great value to Aboriginal communities.Footnote 216 Pimachiowin Aki has yet to be finalized.
Forest companies and environmental organizations in Canada came together in 2010 to create the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). It is the world's largest conservation initiative. It includes the Forest Products Association of Canada, its 19 member organizations, and 7 non-government environmental organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and the Nature Conservancy. It entails a commitment by the environmental groups to stop boycotting the forest companies involved. In return, the companies have suspended logging operations on almost 290,000 km2 of boreal forest. The suspension of forestry activities gives the signatories an opportunity to work together on action plans for the recovery of caribou and producing ecosystem-based management guidelines that participating companies can use to improve their forestry practices.Footnote 217 The Boreal Leadership Council, first convened in December 2003, is comprised of conservation groups, First Nations, resource companies, and financial institutions. Members of the Council are signatories to the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, which aims to protect at least 50% of the boreal in a network of large, interconnected protected areas and support sustainable communities, ecosystem-based resource management, and stewardship practices across the remaining landscape.Footnote 218
In the Athabasca region of Alberta, the oil industry engages in stewardship activities. The Oil Sands Leadership Initiative (OSLI), a collaborative network comprised of ConocoPhillips Canada, Shell Canada, Statoil Canada, Suncor Energy Inc., Nexen Inc., and Total E&P Canada, has four working groups including one that focuses on land stewardship.Footnote 219 The Land Stewardship Working Group (LSWG) is participating in a voluntary restoration in the Algar region, roughly 100 km from most of Alberta's in situ oil sands operations and within the East Side Athabasca River (ESAR) caribou range. The linear footprint from 20–30 year old seismic lines have left it fragmented, reducing the habitat quality for the caribou herd in the area. These areas are extremely slow to re-vegetate naturally due to cold wet soils. Field treatments applied by LSWG included mechanical site preparation for tree planting, collection and dispersal of coarse woody material along the treated seismic lines, identification and protection of existing natural vegetation for retention, and winter wetland planting of 45,000 black spruce trees (a technique successfully pioneered by the OSLI collaborative network with the Government of Alberta).
Some other notable stewardship activities in the ecozone+ include the following initiatives:
- The Government of Manitoba convened a State of Knowledge Workshop on November 29, 2010 with 34 experts to develop a boreal peatlands stewardship strategy.Footnote 220
- Ontario's "Safe Harbour Agreement" is a stewardship agreement between the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and either an individual property owner or a group of landowners. Under the agreement, landowners voluntarily create, restore and maintain valuable rare habitat such as grasslands or wetlands.Footnote 221
- Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has programs in each of the provinces of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. DUC's goal is to protect more than 650,000 km2 in the boreal through a combination of permanent protected areas and environmentally sustainable land use practices.
- In response to a Greenpeace and Natural Resources Defense Council campaign from 2004 to 2009, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, maker of Kleenex, Scott and Cottonelle brands, announced that it would stop buying wood fibre from the Canadian boreal forest that is not certified by the Forest Stewardship Council by 2012.Footnote 222
Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
Much of the wetlands stewardship activity in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ is part of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.Footnote 147 An increasing number of municipalities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador have also committed to protect and enhance wetlands through agreements with the provincial Department of Environment and Conservation.Footnote 223 Through this partnership, municipalities develop a conservation plan for the wetlands, assist in the restoration of degraded wetlands, provide educational opportunities, and promote the participation of the local residents in the use and protection of their resource. The municipalities incorporate the stewardship agreement into municipal planning documents and associated regulations. These long-term agreements have secured 142 km2 (Figure 43) of wetland, wetland associated upland, and coastal habitat from development thereby contributing to wildlife and habitat conservation and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Stewardship agreements are also an important part of protection and recovery for species at risk. Four species at risk stewardship agreements have been signed between the Provincial Government and local entities within the "limestone barrens" regions that are habitat for rare plants. As of 2013, 33 municipalities have signed municipal stewardship agreements.Footnote 224
Figure 43. Cumulative number of management units and total area managed under municipal stewardship agreements in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, 1993–2013.
Source: Newfoundland Department of Environment and Conservation, unpublished data.Footnote225
Long Description for Figure 43
This line graph shows the following information:
|Year||Cumulative Management Units (km2)||Cumulative Management Area (km2)|
Finally, Ocean Net, a grassroots non-governmental organization, has orchestrated the cleanup of over 1,600 beaches and shorelines in Newfoundland with more than 32,000 community volunteers over the past 10 years.Footnote 226
Invasive non-native species
National key finding
Invasive non-native species are a significant stressor on ecosystem functions, processes, and structure in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. This impact is increasing as numbers of invasive non-native species continue to rise and their distributions continue to expand.
Boreal Shield Ecozone+
Invasive species affect ecosystem composition and structure by displacing native species and altering ecological processes.Footnote 227 The relatively extreme climate, low biodiversity, and poor resource availability of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ have thus far resisted invasions of non-native species relative to other ecozones+.Footnote 228 Most invasive species occur in the southern part of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest (82–90 species) and Boreal transition areas (64–72 species) in Ontario and Quebec (Figure 44).Footnote 229 Southeastern Quebec and parts of the aspen parkland in Saskatchewan had the second highest numbers of invasive species. The third highest was Labrador, northern and northwestern Ontario, and Manitoba close to Lake Winnipeg (28-36 species). Most of the rest of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ had from 19 to 27 invasive species (Figure 44).
Figure 44. Number of invasive alien plant species in Canada by ecozone+.
Based on the 162 species for which distribution maps were available.
Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2008.Footnote230
Long Description for Figure 44
This map of Canada shows the distribution and abundance of 162 non-native plant species by ecozone+for 2006. Most invasive species occur in the southern part of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest (82–90 species) and Boreal transition areas (64–72 species) in Ontario and Quebec. Southeastern Quebec and parts of the aspen parkland in Saskatchewan had the second highest numbers of invasive species. The third highest was Labrador, northern and northwestern Ontario, and Manitoba close to Lake Winnipeg (28-36 species). Most of the remaining Boreal Shield Ecozone+had from 19 to 27 invasive species.
Invasive species are largely unstudied in the boreal. A search on Web of Science for 'invas*' AND 'boreal' spanning from 1864 to 2011 resulted in only 288 papers.Footnote 231 The first was published in 1964 and most of these papers did not address invasive species in the boreal forest directly. Invasive species have been invading the boreal forest from southern Quebec and Ontario. Climate change and resource exploitation are expected to intensify the arrival and establishment of non-native species in this ecozone+.
Invasive non-native invertebrates
Terrestrial Invasive non-native invertebrates
Terrestrial invasive non-native invertebrates in the boreal include forest insects, earthworms, and slugs. Invasive non-native insects capable of causing tree mortality or defoliation are economically harmful to the forest product industry in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.Footnote 232 Four of the five species of non-native defoliating European sawfly that attack birch and alder (Alnus spp.) are found in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.Footnote 233 Within the ecozone+, late birch leaf edgeminers (Heterarthrus nemoratus) are in central Saskatchewan and southern Ontario and Quebec, birch leafminers (Fenusa pusilla) and ambermarked birch leafminers (Profenusa thomsoni) are concentrated in Quebec, early birch leaf edgeminers (Fenusella nana) are in Ontario and Quebec, and the fifth species, Scolioneura vicina, was just south of the ecozone+ in 2009.
Emerald ash borers (Agrilus planipennis) are invasive beetles from China and eastern Asia that have invaded Ontario and Quebec. In 2008, they were found in Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, and at one location in Quebec.Footnote 234 Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanicus), white ash (F. americanus), black ash (F. niger), and possibly blue ash (F. quadralangus) are all affected by emerald ash borers.Footnote 235 Black ash is distributed from western Newfoundland to Manitoba and the invasion of emerald ash borer may substantially reduce the abundance of black ash in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.Footnote 236
Probably introduced during the 1700s by European settlers, earthworm species (principally Lumbricus terrestris, L. rubellus, Aporrectodea tuberculata, and A. turgida) are "ecosystem engineers", detritivores that decrease soil organic content in boreal forests and mix organic and mineral soil materials.Footnote 237, Footnote 238 Not only does this reduce the abundance of many native plant species (including seedling trees), but it also causes a shift in ground cover composition from one dominated by forbs to one dominated by sedges. Moreover, disruption of soil processes can also affect nutrient cycling (reduced availability, soil carbon fluctuations, and increased leaching of nitrogen and phosphorous,Footnote 239, Footnote 240 and other organisms inhabiting the forest floor (e.g., microarthropods and small vertebrates).
Non-native species of slugs found in areas of the North American boreal forest include Arion hortensis, Carinarion fasciatus, Deroceras reticulatum, and A. subfuscus.Footnote 241, Footnote 242 Slugs were found in spruce-associated lichens and mosses as well as in burned areas of eastern Quebec in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ indicating high phenotypic plasticity for habitat requirements. As with earthworms, slugs may alter ecosystems because their consumption of detritus promotes carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling within ecosystems. However, studies of slug abundance and habitat distribution across the North American boreal forest have not been conducted and their ecological impacts remain, for the most part, unknown.
Aquatic Invasive non-native invertebrates
The Great Lakes are barriers to the spread of terrestrial invasive species, but they are also a conduit for aquatic invasives. Several invasive aquatic invertebrate species are associated with Great Lakes waterways and some of the most aggressive invaders, both in rate of spread and impact on native biota, include rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus), zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), and spiny water fleas (Bythotrephes longimanus).
Native to the U.S. Midwest, rusty crayfish are invasive herbivores now common in several northern and northeastern states and Canada (Figure 45). They occur in southern and northwestern Ontario (e.g., Lake of the Woods, Quetico Provincial Park, Lake Superior, and its tributaries near Thunder Bay) as well as in Falcon Lake, part of Whiteshell Provincial Park in southeastern Manitoba. This species displaces native crayfish (O. virilis and O. propinquus) and reduces the diversity and abundance of other invertebrates.Footnote 243 They may also impact fish indirectly by altering food resources (e.g., abundance of macrophytes) and directly through egg predation.Footnote 244 Human activities (e.g., anglers dumping bait buckets or intentional releases by commercial crayfish harvesters) coupled with connectivity among watercourses have been linked to the spread of rusty crayfish, which advance at an average rate of 0.68 km/yr.Footnote 245
Figure 45. Growth in distribution of sightings of rusty crayfish in Ontario over time, 1964–2008.
Source: Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, 2008Footnote246
Long Description for Figure 45
This map shows the growth in distribution of sightings of rusty crayfish in Ontario between 1964 and 2008. Growth is concentrated between Lake Hudson and Lake Ontario and east of Lake Superior.
Zebra mussels spread from Lake St. Clair near Detroit in 1988 (Figure 46) and have altered Great Lakes ecosystems by reducing the abundance of zooplankton (especially Diporeia) that are important for the growth of young fish. Decreases in numbers and declining condition of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), smelt (family Osmeridae), and lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in the Great Lakes may be linked to declines in Diporeia.
Figure 46. Growth in distribution of sightings of zebra mussels in Ontario over time, 1988–2008.
Source: Adapted from Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, 2012
Long Description for Figure 46
This map shows the growth in distribution of sightings of zebra mussels in Ontario over time between 1988 and 2008. Sightings from 2005-2008 are concentrated north of Lake Ontario, and into Quebec.
Spiny water fleas are a predatory invasive zooplankton species that reduce the biodiversity of zooplankton in freshwater lakes of the southern Boreal Shield Ecozone+ (Figure 47).Footnote 247, Footnote 248 Invading the Great Lakes from Eurasia in the mid-1980s, this species subsequently spread to inland lakes in Canada and the United States in the 1990s and has now expanded its range into more than 70 lakes in Ontario (Figure 48).Footnote 249 A 21-year study found that species richness of crustacean zooplankton declined and pH decreased (7 years post-invasion) in Harp Lake after the invasion of spiny water fleas.Footnote 250 These effects on lake biodiversity add stress to a region already impacted by the detrimental effects of acidificationFootnote 251 and recovering following reductions in sulphur dioxide emissions (see the Acid deposition key finding on page 103).
Figure 47. Changes in a) species richness, b) Shannon Wiener diversity, c) Evar, and d) total abundance (individuals per m3), for crustacean zooplankton, cladocerans, and copepods in lakes invaded by spiny water fleas and reference lakes in the southern Boreal Shield Ecozone+.
Invaded lakes are open boxes (n=10 lakes) and reference lakes are shaded boxes (n=4 lakes). Boxes are ±1 standard error with the average at centre, bars are standard deviations, and asterisks (*) indicate significant differences (p < 0.05).
Source: adapted from Strecker et al., 2006
Long Description for Figure 47
These bar graphs show that there is lower richness, Shannon-Wiener diversity and total abundance of crustaceans zooplankton and cladocerans in lakes invaded by spiny water fleas. Copepods had decreased abundance and Evar but showed no difference in richness.
Figure 48. Growth in distribution of detections of spiny water fleas in Ontario lakes over time, 1980–2007.
Detection year does not necessarily correspond to the year invaded as many lakes were only sampled in 2000–2007.
Long Description for Figure 48
This map shows the growth in distribution of detections of spiny water fleas in Ontario lakes over time between 1980 and 2007. Invading the Great Lakes from Eurasia in the mid-1980s, this species subsequently spread to inland lakes in Canada and the United States in the 1990s and has now expanded its range into more than 70 lakes in Ontario.
Non-native tree diseases threatening the North American boreal forest include Scleroderris canker, caused by the introduced European strain of the fungal pathogen Gremmeniella abietina var. abietina,Footnote 254 and white pine blister rust, caused by the rust fungus Cronartium ribicola. Boreal red pine (Pinus resinosa) are at risk of disease if Gremmeniella abietina var. abietina is introduced because temperature and moisture conditions required for infection could be favourable for the pathogen in Ontario's boreal forest.Footnote 255
White pine blister rust was accidentally introduced into eastern North America from Europe over 100 years ago.Footnote 256 The disease has spread throughout the range of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), causing high levels of mortality in plantations and natural stands.Footnote 257 Based on climatic conditions suitable for infection, most of the boreal range of eastern white pine is rated in the moderate and high/severe hazard levels for infection.Footnote 258 In 2011, a new virulent strain of white pine blister rust was detected in previously immune black currant (Ribes nigrum). This new strain is the result of a new mutation or the genetic recombination of a North American strain of the fungus and not a new introduction of the disease.Footnote 259
As of 2008, a total of 123 invasive species were known from the Boreal Shield Ecozone ; the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ is relatively uninvaded and occurrences of many species are infrequent or not widely distributed. Fast-growing plant species are not typically adapted to the low light, low levels of nutrients and low pH found in the podzolic soils of the boreal forest.Footnote 260 Other factors adding to the relative resistance of the boreal forest to non-native plant invasions are distance from seed source populations, absence of agriculture, and relatively low levels of anthropogenic disturbance.Footnote 261
Most non-native species in boreal areas are opportunistic weedy species. Species that could interfere with forest regeneration include Siberian peashrub (Caragana arborescens), narrowleaf hawksbeard (Crepis tectorum), bird vetch (Vicia cracca), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), and spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa). Only two non-native species were present close to roads or resorts in Saskatchewan's boreal forest: Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa) and common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). These species were likely introduced when seeding roadsides to reduce soil erosion.Footnote 262
Purple loosestrife was introduced to North America from Eurasia in the early 1800s and has invaded riparian habitats in the southern portion of the Boreal Shield.Footnote 118, Footnote 263 This species affects nutrient cycling, dries up wetlands, and can form monocultures over large areas.Footnote 264, Footnote 265 In the 1990s, purple loosestrife was the most frequently reported invasive species in national wildlife areas and migratory bird sanctuaries, mostly in eastern Quebec overlapping both the Boreal Shield and Mixedwood Plains ecozones+.Footnote 266 From 1992 to 2009, purple loosestrife expanded northwest in Ontario (Figure 49).
Figure 49. Range expansion of purple loosestrife in North America from 1880 to 1992.
Area with darker shading represents region with population of dense stands; solid circles represent individual or local occurrences.
Long Description for Figure 49
This figure represents three maps of Canada and the United States, showing the range expansion of purple loosestrife for 1880, 1940 and 1992 since its introduction to the eastern seaboard. In the 1880s the range was concentrated around New York. The 1940 and 1992 maps indicate that populations of dense stands have gradually expanded from east to northwest, and that individual/local occurrences initially expanded northwest, and now appear north, west and south of the 1880 range.
Other invasive plants are at the southern boundaries of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ including Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) (Figure 50) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) (Figure 51).
Figure 50. Range expansion of Eurasian watermilfoil in North America from 1950 to 1985.
Solid circles represent individual or local occurrences.
Long Description for Figure 50
This figure represents three maps of Canada and the United States, showing the range expansion of Eurasian watermilfoil for 1950, 1965, and 1985. The 1950s map indicates isolated occurrences concentrated in southern California and Arizona and the eastern United States. The 1965 and 1985 maps show substantial range expansion, radiating outward from the 1950s occurrences. By 1985, the range expanded north into Vancouver Island and mainland BC in the west and into the American Midwest and New Brunswick and Quebec in the east.
Figure 51. Generalized distribution of garlic mustard in North America based on herbarium specimens and floras.
Solid circles represent individual or local occurrences. Garlic mustard has not been recorded at the Gaspé site since 1891.
Source: adapted from White et al., 1993
Long Description for Figure 51
This map show the generalized distribution of garlic mustard in North America based on herbarium specimens and floras. Garlic mustard is concentrated in the central eastern part of North America.
Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
The native flora and fauna of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ are less diverse than many mainland communities, and species not native to this island ecozone+ comprise a comparatively large portion of the total species present (Figure 52).Footnote 271, Footnote 272 Accidental and intentional introductions have occurred since the early 16th century.Footnote 273 Footnote 274 Footnote 275 Footnote 276
Figure 52. Non-native species in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, 2000.
Source: Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, 2000
Long Description for Figure 52
This bar graph shows the following information:
|Non-native species||Non-native - Number of species||Native - Number of species|
In addition to 17 native mammals, there are 12 non-native mammal species established in the ecozone+. These include moose, snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), masked shrew (Sorex cinereus), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), mink (Mustela vison), and eastern coyote (Canis latrans), a recent colonizer, which is now widespread throughout the ecozone+. Coyotes are discussed in the Food webs key finding on page 151.
Moose were successfully introduced to Newfoundland in 1904 and rapidly colonized the island. The abundance of available forage, negligible competition from native herbivores,Footnote97 and paucity of predation after the extirpation of their primary predator, wolves (Canis lupus), in the 1930sFootnote 277 provided ideal conditions for moose population increase. Moose occupy all ecoregions on the island. In habitats that are primarily forested, densities often exceed 4 moose/km2 (>1,000 kg/km The island population, at 125,000 moose, represents >10% of the total continental number of moose (1.05 million), while the total island area, including areas unsuited to moose, is < 2% of the estimated continental moose range. Population increases have been further amplified within Gros Morne National Park and Terra Nova National Park where moose hunting was prohibited when the parks were established in 1973 and 1957,respectively. In Gros Morne National Park, moose populations increased from 0.14 moose/km2 in 1971 to 5 moose/km2 in 2007.Footnote100, Footnote 278 To protect the ecological integrity of these national parks, annual harvest of moose began in 2011/2012.
Red squirrels were introduced in 1963 and forage heavily on the seeds of cone-bearing treesFootnote 279 which are the preferred food source for many native bird species including an endangered subspecies of red crossbill (Loxia curvirostra). Red squirrels also predate heavily on the nests of native birds.Footnote 280 They have also had a significant negative impact on white pine reforestation efforts in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+Footnote 281 and have decreased regeneration of balsam fir and black spruce through pre-dispersal cone predation.Footnote279, Footnote 282
Non-native mammals are generally increasing throughout the ecozone+Footnote 283 In 2001, 91% of small mammals captured in the forests of Gros Morne National Park were non-native species.100 Non-native mammals may be affecting forest regeneration. Snowshoe hares forage heavily on woody deciduous species and small mammals such as voles are voracious consumers of tree seeds and newly emerged tree seedlings.Footnote104, Footnote 284, Footnote 285
Over 35% of plant species in the ecozone+ are non-native.Footnote 286 Non-native plants are concentrated in anthropogenic areas such as settlements, roadsides, and abandoned fields.Footnote 287, Footnote 288
Two of the most invasive plants in forests of the Newfoundland Boreal are Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) and coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). Both form dense patches which displace native species.Footnote104, Footnote 289, Footnote 290 In Gros Morne National Park, sites with higher numbers of non-native invasive plants had lower abundances of non-vascular plants compared to uninvaded sites.Footnote102 Disturbance has facilitated the prevalence of Canada thistle. Although the thistle reduces seedling emergence of balsam fir, the balsam fir seedlings are also protected by the thistles against grazing by moose, another introduced species.Footnote 291 Invasion of coltsfoot throughout forest disturbances in Gros Morne National Park began in 1973, when the park opened to the public and occurs nowhere else in Newfoundland in such densities except between the park and Channel-Port aux Basques, where the ferry arrives from mainland Canada.Footnote289 Its invasion of natural areas in the national park has been greatly facilitated by management activities. Importing bedrock aggregate into the park to neutralize or bury unfavourable acidic soils also brought in rhizome fragments derived from coltsfoot plants established in aggregate stockpiles.
The Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ has no native amphibians, but four non-native species are currently established: green frog (Rana clamitans), American toad (Bufo americanus), wood frog (R. sylvatica), and mink frog (R. septentrionalis).Footnote 292 Green frogs are distributed throughout the ecozone+. Footnote 293 American toads and green frogs are highly mobile and can travel across land for long distances.Footnote 294 American toads are established on the west coast and have been transplanted to the Avalon Peninsula and in Central Newfoundland. Dispersal of wood frogs may be gradual since most individuals show high fidelity to their breeding pond. Wood frogs are well established in the Corner Brook area., Northward expansion of these species appears to have stalled in the southern part of Gros Morne National Park as of 2001 (Figure 53). The potential impacts of these non-native species expansions on native biodiversity are unknown.
Figure 53. The number of sites (max = 3) in each of three areas surveyed for frog and toad species in western Newfoundland.
Source: adapted from Campbell et al., 2004
Long Description for Figure 53
This map shows the number of sites in each of three areas surveyed for frog and toad species in western Newfoundland. The bar graph shows the following information:
|Toad Species||Gros Morne area - Number of sites||Corner Brook area - Number of sites||Codroy Valley area - Number of sites|
Invasive terrestrial invertebrates
The Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ contains a large suite of invasive terrestrial invertebrates. Newfoundland and Labrador contain 456 species of non-native arthropods,Footnote 295 with St. John's being an important entry point for non-native arthropod introductions within the Ecozone+ as well as within the country. The Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ contains at least 10 species of established slugs (Arion spp., Limax spp., and Deroceras spp.) and all but one species (Deroceras laeve) is non-native.Footnote 296 Slugs are voracious consumers of newly emerged tree seedlings, Footnote 297 and threaten early establishment stages of balsam fir and other native trees., Newfoundland and Labrador have no native earthworms and 12 non-native earthworm species.Footnote 298 The impact of earthworms within the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ is speculative, but since earthworms can greatly modify litter properties and change soil structure, chemistry, and microorganisms,Footnote 299 it is likely that these species have had a significant impact on forest floor dynamics and nutrient cycling. The introduced golden nematode (Globodera rostochiensis)and pale cyst nematode (G. pallid) infest soils and are considered quarantine pests because, if left unmanaged, they can reduce yields of potatoes and other host crops by up to 80%.Footnote 300 In Canada, the golden nematode is present only in Newfoundland, on Vancouver Island, in Quebec, and in Alberta. Pale cyst nematode is only present in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. These pests are very difficult to eradicate because they can survive dormant in the soil for several decades. Strict quarantine measures are in place to prevent the potential spread of these potato cyst nematodes.
Other introduced insects have had major impacts on forests within the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. The balsam wooly adelgid (Adelges piceae) was introduced to Newfoundland in the 1930s; it has killed stands of balsam fir trees, causing considerable financial losses to silviculture operations. The European pine shoot moth (Rhyacionia buoliana) is a newly introduced insect pest within Newfoundland and within the past few years, infestations of this insect have spread throughout red pine plantations in central Newfoundland, causing widespread deformity in trees less than 25 years of age.
The European strain of the scleroderris canker (Gremmeniella abietina var. abietina) was first recorded in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ in 1979 and the first major infection occurred in 1981 when this disease destroyed a red pine plantation near Torbay, 10 km north of St. John's. Periodically since this time there have been several flare-ups of this disease causing considerable mortality of primarily red pine and scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) trees. Throughout the mid-1990s there were incidences of this disease throughout the Avalon Peninsula.Footnote 301 A major infection destroyed a red pine plantation on the Tilton barrens in 1996. A quarantine zone for limiting the spread of the disease was established for the Avalon Peninsula in 1980 restricting the movement of any hard pine stock off the Avalon. Yet, in 2007, a scleroderris outbreak occurred in a red pine plantation in central Newfoundland. Efforts to quarantine the outbreak and control further spread of the disease are ongoing.
White pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) is a serious introduced tree disease affecting eastern white pine throughout its range.Footnote 302 It was introduced to North America from Europe around 1900 and rapidly spread throughout northeastern North America by infected nursery stock. It affects eastern white pine through needle infection and results in the formation of perennial cankers that girdle the branches and stem, leading to tree mortality.Footnote 303 Since the introduction of white pine blister rust to the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, it has infected white pine trees throughout the entire range of the tree and damage has been devastating. In the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, white pine populations have decreased from a dominant part of the forest canopy to a minor component with restricted stands.
Invasive aquatic invertebrates
In 2005, the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA), in collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Memorial University of Newfoundland, initiated an Aquatic Species Monitoring Program in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. This involves ongoing invasive species monitoring within high-risk harbours, navigational buoy surveys, aquaculture site monitoring, and province-wide bi-annual surveys of yacht clubs, shorelines, and high-risk ports. By 2007, this program had identified and confirmed four new aquatic invasive species:
Lacy bryozoan (Membranipora membranacea), also known as coffin box, is an epiphyte that encrusts the blades of various low intertidal to subtidal macrophytic kelp species and causes kelp fragmentation and defoliation under heavy wave action.Footnote 304, Footnote 305 The species was first recorded in the Gulf of Maine in 1987 where it became the dominant epiphyte on Laminaria kelps within two years. In Nova Scotia, Membranipora was first recorded in the 1990s.Footnote 306 The ectoproct was recorded in Bonne Bay, NL, in 2002; it was later discovered near Merasheen Island, Placentia Bay, in 2005 during the Aquatic Species Monitoring Program.Footnote 307 Since 2005, this species has been recorded widely throughout coastal areas of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone and has devastated native kelp beds, which are critical habitats for juvenile fish, on the west and southwest coasts of the island of Newfoundland.
Golden star tunicate (Botryllus schlosseri) was found in the Argentia, Placentia Bay, in 2006 and has subsequently been found throughout Placentia Bay and Hermitage. In the Maritime provinces, this colonial tunicate is one of four species of tunicate that has had minimal impact on the mussel aquaculture industry, yet it is considered to be a high risk. Its potential impact in Newfoundland and Labrador is unknown and thus controls have been placed on mussel transfers to prevent movement of tunicates.
Violet tunicate (Botryloides violaceus) was first discovered in Belleoram, Fortune Bay in 2007. This colonial tunicate has had both an ecological and economic impact on the mussel aquaculture industry in the Maritime provinces and has been determined to be 'high risk' by a national risk assessment. This species is considered a more significant fouling organism than the golden star tunicate, but yet has a very limited distribution within Fortune Bay. DFA is working in collaboration with DFO and the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association to assess the potential impact in Newfoundland and Labrador and to provide strategies to mitigate these two species of tunicates.
European green crab (Carcinus maenas) was first discovered in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ in North Harbour, Placentia Bay, in 2007. This is a high-profile aquatic invader in Canada and in much of the world, and is listed as one of the top 100 worst invasive non-native species in the world.Footnote 309 It has been a pest in the Maritimes from as early as the 1950s.Footnote 310 The species outcompetes lobsters and other crabs and may also prey upon juvenile lobsters.Footnote308 Elsewhere, the species is known to cause significant ecological harm and destroy prime habitats for shellfish stocks and nurseries for juvenile fish by its burrowing. It preys heavily on wild and cultured bivalve shellfish such as soft shell clams, bar clams, surf clams, oysters and mussels.
The degree of its potential impact in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ is yet unclear. A green crab mitigation pilot project in North Harbour has been initiated by the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) and funded by the provincial government.Footnote 311 This has involved both a directed fishery on green crab as well as public education, and its purpose is to gather information to assist the federal and provincial governments as well as the industry to prevent the spread of green crab to other areas.
In addition to the above species, the Aquatic Species Monitoring Program closely monitors shorelines for high-risk invaders currently undetected within the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ so that potential future invasions might be prevented. These undetected high-risk species include the vase tunicate (Ciona intestinalis), oyster thief (Codium fragile), clubbed tunicate (Styela clava), and Didemnum sp., among others.
Within the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, Placentia Bay is a particularly high-risk area for aquatic non-native species introductions because it contains the largest oil handling port in Canada (Come by Chance, NL), and is a main hub for commercial fishing and transportation. A total of 564 commercial fishing enterprises, 870 vessels, and 12 processing plants are based in it harbours. Marine construction is occurring in several of its multiple harbours and the bay also provides a transportation and shipping link to mainland Canada (i.e., North Sydney, NS) and coastal communities.
Non-native Invasive fish
Freshwater ecosystems of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ have experienced relatively few fish introductions compared with many other regions.Footnote 312 The native freshwater fish fauna of insular Newfoundland is comprised of 15 species. Three species of salmonids were successfully introduced to the ecozone+ during the 1880s in an attempt to increase stocking for the purposes of freshwater fisheries: brown trout (Salmo trutta), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and lake whitefish.Footnote 313 The latter species has only two established populations near St. John's and is not invasive within Newfoundland. Aquaculture escapees are also abundant in the marine environment and may pose a new threat to native fish species, but the status of these populations is not known.Footnote 314
In the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+, the brown trout has extended its range from original planting sites, developed anadromous runs, and established populations throughout the Avalon Peninsula and in Trinity Bay. It has also colonized new watersheds from the Burin Peninsula to Cape Freels. Brown trout populations outcompete native brook trout and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations for habitat.Footnote 315, Footnote 316 Hybridization of brown trout with Atlantic salmon or, infrequently, with native brook trout, further threatens native species.
Rainbow trout distribution has also expanded from the original plantings. The species has developed anadromous runs and is common in some Avalon Peninsula systems and in discrete river systems throughout the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone In some areas it has displaced the native brook trout. In addition, juvenile rainbow trout overlap in preferred habitats and feeding with juvenile salmon resulting in negative interactions between the two species., Footnote 317
In addition to competitive and genetic impacts, predation by both brown trout and rainbow trout has impacted native fish populations and caused irreversible effects on salmonid populations where they have been introduced across North America., Footnote 318
National key finding
Concentrations of legacy contaminants in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems have generally declined over the past 10 to 40 years. Concentrations of many emerging contaminants are increasing in wildlife; mercury is increasing in some wildlife in some areas.
Boreal Shield Ecozone+
Mercury is a focal contaminant for the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ because of its potential to have neurotoxicological effects on organismsFootnote 319 and because anthropogenic activity during the 20th century has tripled the amount of mercury (Hg) in the atmosphere and surface ocean compared to the global background level.Footnote 320 Methylmercury (MeHg), an organic form, is retained in biota more efficiently than inorganic Hg. With a bioaccumulation factor of 10 million, MeHg bioaccumulates in species at upper trophic levelsFootnote 321 and so the concentration of Hg in fish is much higher than surrounding water concentrations. Humans and wildlife with high dietary fish intake show elevated Hg levels and adverse health effects. Footnote 322, Footnote 323
Mercury concentrations in the air within or near the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ declined (-5.1--10.4%) from the mid to late 1990s to 2005.Footnote 324 However, due to large inter-annual variability, no change in atmospheric Hg deposition was detected at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in northwestern Ontario, a long term monitoring station for Hg since 1992 (Figure 71).Footnote 325 Similarly, no change was detected in Hg concentrations in precipitation at a monitoring station in northeastern Quebec from 2000 to 2005.Footnote 326 While discernable trends in Hg loading to lakes may be difficult to detect at the 5 to 10-year scale, several studies have identified elevated Hg concentrations in lake sediments between pre and post-North American industrialization time frames across the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in Ontario and Quebec (Figure 55).Footnote 327 Footnote 328 Footnote 329
Figure 54. Annual winter and open-water season (i.e., late spring to fall) deposition of total Hg in open area precipitation at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in northwestern Ontario from 1992 to 2006.
For years when rain was not collected, open water was estimated for the calculation of total Hg. Total Hg loadings for these years were estimated using the long-term average concentrations in rain at the ELA.
Source: adapted from Graydon et al., 2008
Long Description for Figure 54
This bar graph shows the annual winter and open-water season deposition of total Hg in open area precipitation at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario from 1992 to 2006. 1999 and 2001 show particularly high levels of mercury deposition.
Figure 55. Mercury concentrations in pre-industrial and present-day sediments collected from the profundal zone of 171 lakes in southern and central Ontario.
The profundal zone is a deep zone of an inland body of freestanding water. It is below the range of effective light penetration and is typically below the thermocline, the vertical zone in the water through which temperature drops rapidly.
Source: Mills et al., 2009
Long Description for Figure 55
This bar graph shows mercury concentrations in pre-industrial and present-day sediments collected from the profundal zone of 171 lakes in southern and central Ontario. This graph demonstrates elevated Hg concentrations in lake sediments between pre- and post-North American industrialization time frames across the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in Ontario and Quebec.
Forestry and dam construction in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ has altered ecosystems resulting in post-disturbance increases in water and fish Hg concentrations, then decreases in subsequent years and decades following the perturbation (Figure 56).Footnote 330 Footnote 331 Footnote 332 In a study of hydroelectric reservoirs in Quebec, dam construction exported Hg downstream into successive reservoirs, mostly by suspended particulates and by zooplankton, which increases Hg levels in fish downstream. The increase in MeHg was temporary because only part of the flooded soils and vegetation readily decomposed; mainly grasses, mosses, lichens, leaves, and surface soil litter. These components decomposed within five to eight years after flooding whereas most of the flooded woody biomass, such as branches, trunks, and roots of trees, resist decomposition for up to 60 years.
Figure 56. Average concentrations (±95% CI) of total Hg (µg/g wet weight) in the muscle of lake whitefish from hydroelectric reservoirs of northern Manitoba.
Upper panel: Basins in South Indian Lake (South Bay, Area 5). Middle panel: Basins on the Rat and Burntwood rivers (Issett, Rat, Notigi, Threepoint, and Wuskwatim lakes). Lower panel: Basins on the lower Nelson River (Split and Stephens lakes).
Source: Bodaly, 2007
Long Description for Figure 56
This series of line graphs show average concentrations of total mecury in the muscle of lake whitefish from three hydroelectric reservoirs of northern Manitoba (Southern Indian Lake, Rat and Burntwood rivers, and Lower Nelson River. The graphs for Southern Indian Lake and Rat and Burntwood Rivers show a spike in mercury post-flood and then a decline in subsequent decades back to pre-flood levels . No data pre-flood is available for Lower Nelson River. .
Boreal Shield Ecozone+ biota that are most affected by elevated Hg are piscivorous fish and mammals and birds with high fish intake such as mink, otters, and loons.Footnote 333 Footnote 334 Footnote 335 Mercury levels in river otters (Lontra canadensis) (fish comprise 90% of their diet) in central Ontario can vary by greater than 10-fold due to differences in the fish Hg levels within their range (Figure 57). High Hg levels (0.25–2.48 µg/g) are associated with adverse impacts on loons, including reduced reproductive success, abnormal breeding behaviour, asymmetric feather growth, immune suppression, altered hormone levels, and changes in brain neurochemistry.Footnote 336 Footnote 337 Footnote 338 Footnote 339 Footnote 340 Footnote 341
Mercury concentrations in predatory fish have either remained stable or declined during the last 20 years in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ of Ontario and Manitoba.Footnote 342 Mercury concentrations have also declined in fish from regions that were subject to historic point source contamination (pre-1970s) over the last 25 years (Figure 58).Footnote 343 Though the Hg levels have declined in the ecozone+, several species in several lakes are still above concentrations considered safe for frequent consumption. Some typically non-piscivorous species of fish (e.g., lake whitefish) downstream from hydroelectric projects had Hg near the values expected for naturally piscivorous species (e.g., northern pike). These non-piscivorous fish consumed fish stunned after their passage through turbines.Footnote 344
Figure 57. Mercury levels (dry weight) in hair of otters aged 0.5 to 11.5 years old from townships in Ontario.
Error bars are ±1 standard deviation.
Source: adapted from Mierle et al., 2000
Long Description for Figure 57
This line graph shows the following information:
Figure 58. Mercury concentrations in walleye from four lakes, presented by harvest year and distance of harvest lake from point source of contamination, 1973, 1985, 1989, and 2003.
Source: Kinghorn et al., 2007
Long Description for Figure 58
This line graph shows mercury concentrations in walleye from four lakes, presented by harvest year and distance of harvest lake from point source of contamination for 1973, 1985, 1989, and 2003. The graphs indicate that mercury concentrations were higher the shorter the distance from Dryden. Mercury concentrations declined in fish from all four lakes since 1973, with the largest declines in Clay Lake and Ball Lake.
Some reservoirs in the Quebec region of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ experienced a "biological boom" due to the release of nutrients associated with flooding. This increase of biomass up the food chain, from plankton to fish and their predators, improves the densities, conditions, and growth rates some species after impoundment. Footnote 345 In all modified environments, water quality remained adequate for aquatic life, recovery to pre-impoundment Hg concentrations occurred within 5–15 years, and increased nutrients had positive effects on the aquatic food chain.Footnote 346 The temporary increase in fish Hg levels was also below thresholds of effects for humans, particularly given that the rate of fish consumption in this region is low.Footnote 347
Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
Petroleum and its products represent an increasing contamination hazard to the shorelines of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ given the increased rate of development of the offshore petroleum industry (e.g., development of the Hibernia, Terra Nova, and White Rose oilfields). Threats include accidental spillage from tankers, offshore wells, or pipelines.160 In addition to offshore events, accidental discharge of petroleum and gasoline at the shoreline during refinery and tanker operations,Footnote 348, Footnote 349 removal and disposal of waste from vessels in port,Footnote 350 and leakages from strictly terrestrial sources pose further threats.Footnote 160
Placentia Bay and the Avalon Peninsula may be the most likely locations in Canada to suffer a petroleum contamination event within the next 10 years.Footnote 351 Placentia Bay currently hosts the highest volume of ship traffic along the Atlantic Canadian coastline, and is exposed to accidental and deliberate discharges of petroleum products by Trans-Atlantic ship traffic. In particular, Arnold's Cove and Come by Chance are considered the most vulnerable beaches to oil contamination. Tanker traffic through Placentia Bay to the Whiffen Head trans-shipment terminal and the Come-by-Chance oil refinery, located in Arnold's Cove, has increased substantially since 1990. Similarly, the Avalon Peninsula lies directly adjacent to a major trans-Atlantic shipping route connecting eastern North America with northwestern Europe, and to offshore petroleum development and areas of ongoing exploration.Footnote 352 Incidents and legal proceedings associated with discharge of petroleum-laden bilge by offshore vessels, and the onshore consequences, have been noted along shorelines from Cape Race to Placentia Bay. Footnote 353 Footnote 354
Sewage constitutes a serious form of pollution in many coastal environments of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. This is particularly true in harbours where circulation with the open ocean is limited, such as shorelines with very deep harbours and connected to the open ocean by narrow, curved channels. Harbours with sewage problems include Corner Brook, Marystown, Burin Bay Arm, St. Alban's, Terrenceville, and St. John's. St. John's Harbour experiences insufficient rates of flushing with the open ocean.Footnote 355, Footnote 356 At depths below 20 m, the harbour waters are virtually stagnant and the discharge of the Waterford River is insufficient to flush the embayment.
Nutrient loading and algal blooms
National key finding
Inputs of nutrients to both freshwater and marine systems, particularly in urban and agriculture-dominated landscapes, have led to algal blooms that may be a nuisance and/or may be harmful. Nutrient inputs have been increasing in some places and decreasing in others.
Boreal Shield Ecozone+
Residual soil nitrogen (RSN) is a variable indicating the amount of inorganic nitrogen remaining in the soil, per hectare, after crops are harvested.Footnote 357 The Boreal Shield Ecozone+ contains a relatively small amount of agricultural land given its size (9,200 km2, representing only 1.5% of Canada's agricultural land in 2006); nevertheless, between 1981 and 2001, nitrogen (N) inputs increased from 82.4 to 109 kg N/ha and then decreased to 107 kg N/ha from 2001 and 2006. Most N inputs in 2006 were from legume crops (59.8 kg N/ha), followed by fertilizer (21.3 kg N/ha), and manure (20.3 kg N/ha).Footnote 358 The increase in N fixation was due to an increase in the area of legume crops over the 25-year period. From 1981 to 2006, N outputs increased from 62.6 to 74.0 kg N/ha. The RSN more than doubled from 1981 to 2001, from a low of 19.8 kg N/ha to a maximum of 43.4 kg N/ha, followed by a decrease to 33.0 kg N/ha by 2006 (Figure 59).
Figure 59. a) Nitrogen input, output, and residual soil nitrogen (RSN) and b) Amount of nitrogen from manure, fertilizer, and fixation by leguminous crops in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 1981–2006.
Manure N input represents the net amount of mineral N applied to the soil or released from the mineralization of organic N over three years.
Source: Drury et al., 2011
Long Description for Figure 59
These two line graphs show the following information:
|Year||Nitrogen input - kg/ha||Nitrogen output - kg/ha||Residual soil nitrogen - kg/ha|
|Year||Manure nitrogen input - kg/ha||Fertilizer nitrogen - kg/ha||Legume nitrogen fixation - kg/ha|
Source: Drury et al., 2011
Low RSN risk areas remained stable from 1981 to 2006. High legume-crop inputs and fertilizer use in southeastern Quebec and Ontario north of the St. Lawrence lowlands resulted in an increase in risk class in 2006 for areas that were already medium to high risk in 1981 (Figure 60).
Figure 60. Map of a) residual soil nitrogen (RSN) risk classes in 2006 and b) changes in RSN risk class from 1981 to 2006 for farmland in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.
<10 kg N/ha = very low risk (dark green), 10 to 19.9 kg N/ha = low risk (light green), 20 to 29.9 kg N/ha = medium risk (yellow), 30 to 39.9 kg N/ha = high risk (orange), and >40 kg N/ha = very high risk (red).
Source: Drury et al., 2011
Long Description for Figure 60
This figure contains two maps. The first map shows five risk classes of RSN (.0-9.9; 1.0-19.9; 20.0-29.9; 30.0-49.9: and ≥ 40.0 kg N/ha). The southern half of the ecozone+ is characterized by areas of low, medium, and high risk RSN classes, while the northern half has only one high risk class (≥ 40.0) area in the west. The second map shows that almost all the classified land increased from a lower to higher risk class.
Nutrient loading results in the eutrophication of aquatic systems. Algae thrive on the increased nutrients and consume more oxygen. This results in hypoxia, the depletion of oxygen in the water, which changes community composition. For example, the number of lakes and rivers affected by blue-green algae in the Quebec portion of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ increased from less than 10 in 2004 (unpublished data) to no fewer than 70 each year since 2007 (Figure 61).Footnote 359 The geographic area for this trend overlaps with the Mixedwood Plains Ecozone+, which may bias the trend reported for the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.
Figure 61. Number of lakes and rivers (stacked) where blue-green algae was detected for Quebec administrative units that occur within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 2006 to 2012.
Note: These results overlap with the Mixedwood Plains Ecozone+.
Source: Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs, 2009
Long Description for Figure 61
This stacked bar graph shows the number of lakes and rivers where blue-green algae was detected for the seven Quebec administrative units that occur within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 2006 to 2012. The number of lakes and rivers affected by blue-green algae in the Quebec portion of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ increased from less than 40 in 2006 to more than 70 each year since 2007. The peak was in 2007 with almost 110 lakes and rivers affected. The Laurenides administrative unit has the greatest number of affected rivers and lakes in all years.
Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
The Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ contained the second smallest area of agricultural land (210 km2) of the agricultural ecozones+ in 2006. Agricultural land in the mid-west and northern parts of the ecozone+ was in the very high risk class, whereas the southeastern areas ranged from very low to high risk (Figure 62 ).
Figure 62. a) Nitrogen input, output, and residual soil nitrogen (RSN) from 1981 and 2006, b) map of overall changes in RSN risk class from 1981 to 2006, and c) map of RSN risk classes in 2006 for agricultural land in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+.
Source: Drury et al., 2011
Long Description for Figure 62
This bar graph and two maps show nitrogen input, output, and residual soil nitrogen from 1981 and 2006. The first map shows overall changes in RSN risk class from 1981 to 2006, and the second map shows RSN risk classes in 2006 for agricultural land in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. Agricultural land in the mid-west and northern parts of the ecozone+ was in the very high risk class, whereas the southeastern areas ranged from very low to high risk. The bar graph shows the following information:
|Year||nitrogen input - kg/ha||nitrogen output - kg/ha||residual soil nitrogen - kg/ha|
Nitrogen inputs doubled over 15 years (from 50.7 kg N/ha in 1981 to 115 kg N/ha in 1996) and then decreased to 102 kg N/ha in 2006 (Figure 62). Manure was the greatest source of nitrogen in 1981 at 23.8 kg N/ha compared to 11.3 kg N/ha for fertilizer and 13.6 kg N/ha for legume nitrogen fixation. However, by 2006, legume fixation (37.7 kg N/ha) and manure addition (34.5 kg N/ha) contributed similar amounts of N to agricultural lands with fertilizer the lowest of these three nitrogen sources at 28.1 kg N/ha. Nitrogen output increased from 30.6 kg N/ha in 1981 to 48.4 kg N/ha in 2006 (Figure 62). The RSN levels generally increased over time from a low of 20.0 kg N/ha in 1981 to 53.8 kg N/ha in 2006 (Figure 62).
Risk classes based on the RSN level present in the soil at the end of the growing season were assigned to farmland and the area of land in each risk class was mapped for the agricultural areas in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. The agricultural land in the midwest and northern regions of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ was in the very high risk class whereas the south eastern areas ranged from very low to the high risk class (Figure 62). Agricultural land in the midwest and eastern parts of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ increased by at least one risk class between 1981 and 2006 (Figure 62).
National key finding
Thresholds related to ecological impact of acid deposition, including acid rain, are exceeded in some areas, acidifying emissions are increasing in some areas, and biological recovery has not kept pace with emission reductions in other areas.
Boreal Shield Ecozone+
Acid deposition is primarily the result of emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and N oxides (NOx) that can be transformed into dry or moist secondary pollutants such as sulphuric acid (H2SO4), ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) and nitric acid (HNO3) as they are transported in the atmosphere over distances of hundreds to thousands of kilometres.Footnote 360 Acid deposition is traditionally associated with smelting, other industrial processes, and thermal electric power generation. More recently, new sources of acid leading to acid deposition include oil and gas production and transportation. Acid deposition can affect lakes, rivers, soils, forests, buildings, and human health.Footnote 361 Sensitive terrain is typically underlain by insoluble granitic bedrock and overlain by thin-to-absent glacially derived soils, conditions that occur throughout the Boreal Shield Ecozone+.
From 1990 to 2005, acid deposition was highest in the southern portion of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in Ontario and Quebec because emission sources are concentrated in southeastern Canada and the eastern United States. This part of the ecozone+ received greater than 20 kg of wet sulphate/ha/yr in 1990, but this declined to 10 to 15 kg/ha/yr by 2005.Footnote 362 The western and eastern parts of the ecozone+, which are less affected by SO2 emissions, have experienced little change in their wet sulphate deposition (5 kg/ha/yr or less). Wet nitrate deposition also declined from 1990 to 2005 in the southern Ontario–Quebec part of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. Compared to sulphate, the degree of change was modest (from >18 kg nitrate/ha/yr to 12 to 15 kg/ha/yr).
The work conducted and knowledge gained during the early years of acid deposition science in North America (i.e., the 1980s) prompted political action to reduce SO2 (and later NOx) emissions. This culminated in the 1991 Canada–United States Air Quality Agreement.Footnote 363 Combined Canada–United States SO2 emissions declined by about 45% (from 28 to 15.4 Mt) between 1980 and 2006.Footnote 364 Over half of the eastern Canadian SO2 reductions have occurred at the base-metal smelters in Sudbury, ON, and Rouyn-Noranda, QC, both of which are located within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. Similarly, from 1980 to 2006, total Canada–United States NOx emissions declined by about 19% (from 22.7 to 24 Mt), although most of this was due to reductions from United States sources. Further reductions may occur as Ontario implements progressive green energy policies such as phasing out thermal electric power generation by 2014.Footnote 365
Critical loads and exceedances
The critical load is the maximum level of both sulphur and N deposition that can occur and still maintain the integrity of aquatic and forest ecosystems.Footnote 366 Acid deposition and an ecosystem's critical loads can be compared to calculate the "exceedance". The exceedance can be positive (meaning that the lakes or forest soils are receiving too much acid deposition) or negative (meaning that the lakes or soils could absorb more acid deposition without harmful effects). Positive exceedance can occur when extremely sensitive (low critical load) terrain receives low levels of deposition as well as when less sensitive terrain receives high levels of deposition. The steady-state exceedance is the maximum value that would occur in the future (at the "current" deposition level) should the aquatic or terrestrial ecosystem become N-saturated.Footnote 62 Figure 63 illustrates the spatial variation in steady-state exceedances that occurs across the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. Acid-sensitive terrain is reflected in the local geology and, overall, 38.9% (730,000 km2) of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ is within the four lowest, most sensitive critical load classes.
Highest steady-state exceedance occurred in the regions of maximum acid deposition, southcentral Ontario and southwestern Quebec, as well as near local sources, such as the base metal smelters at Flin Flon and Thompson, MB (Figure 67). Except for the northeastern part of the ecozone+, positive steady-state exceedance (the four "hot-coloured" classes) occurred in 25% (470,000 km2) of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ (Figure 67).
Figure 63. Steady-state critical load exceedances calculated using the estimated "current" total sulphur and nitrogen deposition, best available data as of 2009.
Source: Jeffries et al., 2010Footnote367
Long Description for Figure 63
This map of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ shows that steady-state exceedance is primarily -300 to -100 eq/ha/yr across the ecozone. Patches of -300 to <-600 eq/ha/yr occur in northern areas of the ecozone+ and the portion of the ecozone+ northeast of the Great Lakes in Ontario and Quebec is characterized by 300-600 and >=600 eq/ha/yr.
Trends in aquatic ecosystems
Many lakes located within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ are sensitive to acid deposition, and those in Quebec and Ontario have already been chemically altered and have not recovered despite reductions in emissions.Footnote 368 Reflecting the SO2 emission history from local smelters in Ontario and Quebec, the rates of changes in sulphur were often steeper in the 1970s and 1990s than in the 1980s. Although lakes in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are also sensitive, they have yet to show the effects of acid deposition.368 This may change as acidifying pollutants emitted from smelters in Manitoba and from oil sands operations in Alberta continue or grow.Footnote 369, Footnote 370 Due to their buffering capacity, lakes in the Manitoba portion of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ are the least likely to be affected by acid deposition.
Within the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, trends in acid deposition from 1990 to 2004 were reported for 28 lakes in southwestern Quebec, 72 lakes in the Sudbury region of Ontario, and 80 lakes in the remainder of Ontario.362 Sulphate, which ranged from -1.6 µeq/L/yr (Ontario) to 4.1 µeq/L/yr (Sudbury), declined (p<0.05) for all three groups. There were no trends for nitrate for any group. Base cations (mostly dissolved calcium (Ca)), which ranged from -1.4 µeq/L/yr (Quebec) to -3.6 µeq/L/yr (Sudbury), compensated for the declining sulphate. Trends in the alkalinity concentrations of lakes were positive, but much smaller in absolute magnitude, ranging from +0.2 µeq/L/yr (Ontario, p>0.05) to +0.9 µeq/L/yr (Sudbury, p<0.05). Overall, lakes in areas of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ with the most acid deposition responded to declines in deposition, but recovery of their alkalinity (pH) was delayed. Part of the delay is due to the chemical compensation provided by declining base cation concentrations, a predictable but temporary geochemical effect. On the other hand, the declining Ca concentrations in Ontario lakes are approaching levels that threaten the sustainability of keystone zooplankton speciesFootnote 371 and lake recovery may be slow and possibly never re-established.Footnote 372
Estimates of trends in precipitation chemistry for Saskatchewan were not possible due to insufficient sampling. To address this limitation, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment initiated a precipitation collection program. From 2007 to 2011, the Ministry assessed acid sensitivity for 259 headwater lakes in northwest Saskatchewan, all within 300 km of Alberta's Athabasca oil sands region.Footnote 373 As a result of the geological and meteorological conditions of the area, 68% of the surveyed lakes were classified as sensitive or very sensitive to acid deposition due to their low buffering capacity.Footnote 374
Effects of acidification on aquatic ecosystems
Algae, invertebrates, fish, and waterbirds are affected by acidification through direct acidity effects, metal toxicity, loss of prey, and reduced nutritional value of remaining prey.Footnote 375 Although certain acid-tolerant species (e.g., some dragonflies) tend to be more abundant at higher acidity (e.g., below pH 5.5), the abundance of other invertebrates, particularly mayflies and molluscs, is reduced under acidic conditions (Figure 64). Large invertebrates are important food for breeding waterbirds and are essential nutrition and energy sources for nesting females and their young. Common loon breeding success is particularly affected by changes in lake acidity and associated food web impacts. Many fish species are sensitive to acidification and may suffer lower recruitment and growth rates, increased accumulation of toxic metals, and impaired anti-predator responses in acid-stressed lakes. Fish species richness declined in lakes in southeastern Canada at pH ranges of 5.0 to 5.9.Footnote 376, Footnote 377
Figure 64. Step function plot modelling the relationship between pH and zooplankton species richness.
Source: Holt et al., 2003Footnote378
Long Description for Figure 64
This scatter graph shows a step function plot modelling the relationship between pH and zooplankton species richness. It shows an increase at pH 6.0 from 8 to 10.
The acidification of aquatic systems often leads to increases in MeHg. For more information on the distribution and levels of Hg contamination in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, see the Contaminants key finding on page 93.
Many of lakes with biological improvements were located in the Sudbury and Muskoka regions of Ontario.Footnote 379, Footnote 380 Acid-sensitive mayflies increased as acidity in two Sudbury lakes was reduced (Figure 65).Footnote 381 Zooplankton in several Sudbury area lakes became more similar to non-acidic reference lakes. Species richness increased in three Ontario lakes but declined in a fourth. Changing phosphorus levels, declining acidity, and rising dissolved organic carbon resulted in shifts in zooplankton community composition.Footnote 382
Figure 65. Number of sites colonised by the mayflies (Stenacron interpunctatum) (dark blue) and S. femoratum (light blue) and the amphipod Hyatella azteca (green) in a) George Lake and b) Partridge Lake near Killarney, ON, sampled between 1997 and 2002.
Lake near Killarney, ON, sampled between 1997 and 2002.
Note: The annual surveys of Partridge Lake began in 1998 for mayflies and in 2000 for amphipods. The total number of surveyed sites available for colonization by each group is indicated by the dashed lines.
Source: Environment Canada, 2005, adapted from Snucins, 2003
Long Description for Figure 65
These two line graphs show the number of sites colonised by mayflies (Stenacron interpunctatum and S. femoratum) and the amphipod Hyatella azteca in George Lake and Partridge Lake near Killarney, ON, between 1997 and 2002. Stenacron interpunctatum increased from about 30 to 100 sites in George Lake and from 0 to 12 in Partridge Lake. No trend is apparent for the other two lakes.
Sport fish affected by acidification include lake trout and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu). Lake trout introduced to acid-stressed lakes near Sudbury and Killarney, ON, did poorly in species rich lakes and had slower growth, lower survival, and delayed recruitment.Footnote 383 The biomass of natural lake trout recruits remained well below reference levels five to 15 years after water quality recovery and spawning by adults occurred. In contrast, smallmouth bass reintroductions can succeed in lakes with species-rich fish communities. For example, improved water quality recovery and spawning by stocked fish resulted in the biomass of natural smallmouth bass recruits increasing to reference lake levels within five years. New populations of smallmouth bass, rock bass (>Ambloplites rupestris), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), and walleye (Sander vitreus) have been found in recovering lakes, some of which had not contained those species prior to acidification.Footnote 384
The liming of lakes is used to reverse acidification and maintain habitat for aurora trout (Salvelinus fontinalis timagamiensis), a type of brook trout native to just two lakes in the world. Both lakes are located in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+, 110 km north of Sudbury. Aurora trout were extirpated when these lakes were acidified during the 1960s. Captive-bred trout were successfully reintroduced after liming in 1989.Footnote 385
Breeding numbers of two piscivorous waterbirds, common loons and common mergansers (Mergus merganser), increased in the Ontario portion of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from the late 1980s to 2002 (see the Effects of acidification on aquatic ecosystems section on page 106). These birds are increasingly using low-pH (pH<5.5) lakes, possibly a result of generally improving conditions in the region However, breeding productivity of common loons declined in Ontario (1981–1999) and La Mauricie National Park, QC (1987–2002) (Figure 66). Common loon chicks did not fledge on lakes with pH less than 4.4 due to a shortage of food.Footnote 386 Lakes with pH values of 4.4–6.0 are suboptimal, but can support chicks to fledging if the lakes are sufficiently large in size. As sulphur dioxide emissions from the Sudbury smelters and sulphur deposition from other long-range sources decreased, some breeding success returned.
Figure 66. The total number of common loon breeding pairs (dashed line) and young (solid line) observed during surveys of 76 lakes in La Mauricie National Park, QC between 1987 and 2002.
The regression line represents a significant (p=0.02) trend for the total number of young observed in the park.
Source: Environment Canada, 2005
Long Description for Figure 66
This line graph shows the total number of common loon breeding pairs and young observed during surveys of 76 lakes in La Mauricie National Park, QC between 1987 and 2002. During this time breeding productivity of common loons declined significantly (p=0.02).
Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
An acid rain monitoring program (the Newfoundland Environment Precipitation Monitoring Network (NEPMoN) was in operation between 1983 and 2004. NEPMoN consisted of a series of wet-only precipitation collectors set up at specially selected sites across Newfoundland and Labrador. The number of sites peaked at seven in 1995 but was cut back to two in 1996 due to decreased funding. In 1998, the program was revived to five sites with support from provincial industries. One of the previous sites was re-opened in addition to the opening of two new sites. The weekly wet-only precipitation data from these stations were used to complement the daily data collected by Environment Canada's Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CAPMoN) Stations in the Province (Bay d'Espoir and Goose Bay).Footnote 387
There was pronounced spatial variation in the deposition of sulphates and nitrates across the island.Footnote 388 The largest depositions occurred on the southwest corner of the island with the quantities of sulphates and nitrates diminishing to the north and east. The rate of deposition of sulphate may have diminished since 1990, but the rate of deposition of nitrate increased. These declining trends may be related to emission abatement measures, but could also result from changes in weather patterns.
National key finding
Rising temperatures across Canada, along with changes in other climatic variables over the past 50 years, have had both direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems.
Boreal Shield Ecozone+
From 1950 to 2007, temperatures increased in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in spring by 1.7°C, in summer by 1.3°C, and in winter by 1.8°C, resulting in an earlier growing season by eight days (Table 17, Figure 67).154 There were no overall significant trends in precipitation in spring, summer, and winter, however, precipitation in the fall increased by 17% (Figure 68). Major changes in snowfall patterns, likely associated with increased temperatures, included shallower snow cover (-13.7 cm) and earlier snow melt (10.3 days) from February to July (Figure 69). Additionally, changes in snowfall were regionally variable with less winter precipitation along the eastern and western ecozone+ boundaries and more winter precipitation in the central part of the ecozone+. These regional variations also correspond to changes in moisture observed throughout the 20th century, as described in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ key finding on page 143.
|Driver||Trends from 1950–2007|
|Temperature||Overall ↑ of 1.7 °C in spring temperature|
Overall ↑ of 1.3 °C in summer temperature
No significant fall trend
Overall ↑ of 1.8 °C in winter temperature
|Growing season||Weak tendency toward an earlier start by 8 days to the growing season in spring|
|Precipitation||17% ↑ in fall precipitation|
No significant spring, summer, or winter trends
No significant trend in the amount of precipitation falling as rain vs. snow
|Snow||13.7 cm ↓ in maximum annual snow depth|
No significant trend in # of days with snow cover from August to January
Weak tendency toward an earlier end of the snow season from February to July by 10.3 days
Source: Zhang et al., 2011Footnote154and supplementary data provided by the authors
Figure 67. Change in mean temperatures in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1950–2007 for: a) spring (March–May), b) summer (June–August, c) fall (September–November), and d) winter (December–February).
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 and supplementary data provided by the authors
Long Description for Figure 67
This figure shows a map of each season in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ with icons representing individual monitoring stations that indicate an increase or decrease in seasonal temperature, the degree of change, and whether observed trends were significant. From 1950 to 2007, temperatures increased in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in spring by 1.7°C, in summer by 1.3°C, and in winter by 1.8°C, resulting in an earlier growing season by eight days. In the fall, some sites decreased in temperature, but none significantly. Across the ecozone+as a whole, temperature increased between 0.5 and >3 °C..
Figure 68. Change in the amounts of precipitation in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1950 to 2007 for a) spring (March–May), b) summer (June–August), c) fall (September–November), and d) winter (December–February).
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 and supplementary data provided by the authors
Long Description for Figure 68
This figure shows a map of each season in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ with icons representing individual monitoring stations that indicate an increase or decrease in annual precipitation, the degree of change, and whether observed trends were significant. There were no overall significant trends in precipitation in spring, summer, and winter, however, precipitation in the fall increased by 17%.
Figure 69. Change in snow durations (the number of days with ≥2 cm of snow on the ground) in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1950–2007 in: a) the first half of the snow season (August–January), which indicates change in the start date of snow cover, and b) the second half of the snow season (February–July), which indicates changes in the end date of snow cover.
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 and supplementary data provided by the authors
Long Description for Figure 69
These two maps show the change in snow durations (the number of days with ≥2 cm of snow on the ground) in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ from 1950–2007 in the first half of the snow season (August–January), which indicates change in the start date of snow cover, and the second half of the snow season (February–July), which indicates changes in the end date of snow cover. Major changes in snowfall patterns, likely associated to increased temperatures, included shallower snow cover (-13.7 cm) and earlier snow melt (10.3 days) from February to July.
These climatic changes have had direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity through changes to hydrological processes, natural disturbances, primary productivity, and invasions of non-native species. Increases in spring and winter temperatures as well as a shallower snow cover and earlier snowmelt, contributed to decreases in annual flows, earlier spring peak flows, and earlier ice melt (see the Lakes and rivers key finding on page 48).Footnote 14, Footnote 153, Footnote 154 Climate change also accelerated erosion (see the Coastal key finding on page 59) through higher water levels that intensified wave action, decreased ice that would otherwise stabilize shores and regulate sediment loads, and caused more frequent freeze-thaw events, particularly affecting clayey cliffs. Forecasted increases in storm events may also facilitate coastal erosion.Footnote 169
Precipitation and temperature changes are contributing to more abundant, earlier, yet less intense fires in central Quebec (see the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ key finding on page 143). These altered natural disturbance patterns resulted in significant replacement of closed-crown boreal forests by less productive lichen woodlands in the latter half of the 20th century.Footnote 69 Here the boreal forest is receding northward, which corresponds to predicted changes in ecosystem composition and structure in a changing climate.Footnote 389 In Quebec and southern Labrador, climate change from 1985–2006 was associated with positive trends in net primary productivity (see the Primary productivity key finding on page 141).Footnote 390
Range expansions of native and invasive species are consistent with trends towards warmer spring, summer, and winter temperatures, an earlier start of the growing season, and reduced snow depth and duration of snow. The 2007 to 2009 expansion of hemlock looper (Lambdina fiscellaria fiscellaria) outbreaks led to unprecedented pesticide treatment plans in southern Labrador. Great blue herons (Ardea herodias), American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), and a few forest-dwelling landbird species, were reported more frequently in the northern range of their distributions. Some of these birds are decreasing in their southern range, suggesting a northward shift. Water temperature increases may benefit warm water fish species such as smallmouth bass whereas cold water fish species, such as lake trout, may decline. Non-native invasive species, parasites, and pathogens are spreading northwards (see the Invasive non-native species key finding on page 78). Other species, notably the mountain pine beetle (Dentroctonus ponderosae), have expanded their ranges into neighbouring ecozones+ and are expected to reach the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ in coming years.
Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
Significant changes have occurred in average summer and fall temperatures in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ (Table 18 and Figure 70). The amounts of spring, fall, and winter precipitation have all increased by 0.2%, while no significant changes were found for summer precipitation (Figure 71). Changes in precipitation have led to changes in streamflow. For example, discharge in the Bay du Nord River has increased in the spring and decreased in the summer since 1970. No change was found in the proportion of precipitation falling as rain versus snow, or the duration of snow cover. However, the maximum annual snow depth has increased by 32.5 cm since 1950.
|Climate variable||Trends from 1950–2007|
|Temperature||Overall ↑ of 1.7 °C in summer temperature|
Overall ↑ of 1.0 °C in fall temperature
No significant spring or winter trends
|Growing season||No significant trend in the start, end or length of the growing season|
|Precipitation||0.2% ↑ in spring precipitation|
0.2% ↑ fall precipitation
0.2% ↑ winter precipitation
No significant summer precipitation trends
No significant trend in the amount of precipitation falling as rain vs. snow
|Snow||32.5 cm ↑ in maximum annual snow depth|
No significant trend in # of days with snow cover
|Drought index||No significant trend|
Source: Zhang et al. 2011 and supplementary data provided by the authors
Figure 70. a) Summer (June–August) and b) fall (September–November) average temperature anomalies for 1950 to 2007 relative to the base period (1961–1990) average in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+.
The graphs show the overall trends for the ecozone+ and the maps show trends (p< 0.05) for individual stations.
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 and supplementary data provided by the authors
Long Description for Figure 70
This figure contains a line graph and a map of the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ for both the mean summer temperature and mean fall temperature anomalies. Significant increases have occurred in average summer and fall temperatures in the ecozone+. In both seasons, temperatures have increased significantly at five locations across the ecozone+ in the summer (St. John's +1.6, St. John's west +2.2, Deer Lake +1.4, Stephenville +1.0, and Port aux Basques +1), and at three locations in the fall (St. John's +1.0, St. John's west +2.1, and Port aux Basques +1.2).
Two line graphs show the following information:
|Year||Mean Summer Temp Anomaly (°C)||Mean Fall Temp Anomaly (°C)|
Figure 71. a) Spring (March–May), b) fall (September–November), and c) winter (December–February) precipitation anomalies for 1950 to 2007 relative to the base period (1961–1990) average in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+.
The graphs show the overall trends for the ecozone+ ; maps show trends (p< 0.05) for individual stations.
Source: Zhang et al., 2011 and supplementary data provided by the authors
Long Description for Figure 71
This series of maps and line graphs shows spring (March–May), fall (September–November), and winter (December–February) precipitation anomalies for 1950 to 2007 relative to the base period (1961–1990) average in the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. Significant increases occurred in the spring at St. Anthony (+84.0%), Gander (+23.0%), Corner Brook (+53.1%) and Port aux Basques (+67.3%). In the fall, significant increases occurred at St. Anthony (+67.3%) and Gander (+29.4%). Significant winter increases were at St. Anthony (+77.9%), Corner Brook (+24.8%), Stephenville (+33.0) and Port aux Basques (+41.3%). No significant changes were found for summer precipitation.
Three line graphs show the following information:
|Year||% Change in Total|
|% Change in Total Fall|
|% Change in Total|
Like the rest of Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland is expected to experience rising sea levels, more storm events, increasing storm intensity, and increased coastal erosion and flooding with climate change.Footnote 144, Footnote 391
National key finding
Canada is well endowed with a natural environment that provides ecosystem services upon which our quality of life depends. In some areas where stressors have impaired ecosystem function, the cost of maintaining ecosystem services is high and deterioration in quantity, quality, and access to ecosystem services is evident.
Boreal Shield Ecozone+
Ecosystem services are the direct goods and indirect services from a healthy, natural environment that ensure human well-being. These include provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural services. Following the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report in 2005,Footnote 392 the Pembina Institute identified, inventoried, and measured the full economic value of the many ecological goods and services provided by Canada's boreal region. They developed the Boreal Ecosystem Wealth Accounting System (BEWAS), a tool for measuring and reporting on the physical conditions and the full economic value of the boreal region's natural capital and ecosystem services.Footnote 393 The estimated net market value in the year 2002 was $37.5 billion across all products extracted from boreal forest annually. If accounted for, this would equate to 4.2% of Canada's GDP in 2002. The net market value calculation is based on the contribution to Canada's GDP from boreal timber harvesting, mineral and oil and gas extraction, and hydroelectric generation ($62 billion) minus the estimated $11 billion in environmental costs (e.g., air pollution costs) and societal costs (e.g., government subsidies) associated with these industrial activities. Non-marketable ecosystem goods and services were valued at $703.2 billion (Table 19).
|Values||Forests||Wetlands and peatlands||Minerals and subsoil assets||Water resources||Waste production||Total|
|Market ValuesNote c of Table 19||$18.8 billionNote c of Table 19||-||$23.6 billionNote c of Table 19||$19.5 billionNote c of Table 19||-||$62 billionNote c of Table 19|
|CostsNote a of Table 19Note d of Table 19||$150 million||-||$1 billionNote d of Table 19||-||$9.9 billionNote d of Table 19||$11 billionNote d of Table 19|
|Non-market valuesNote e of Table 19||$180.1 billionNote e of Table 19||$512.6 billionNote e of Table 19||-||-||-||$703.2 billionNote e of Table 19|
|Examples||Pest control by birds|
Carbon sequestrationNote e of Table 19
Biodiversity valueNote e of Table 19
|Federal government expenditures for subsidies to the oil and gas and mining sectorsNote d of Table 19||Hydroelectric generation from dams and reservoirsNote c of Table 19||Air pollution costs to human healthNote b of Table 19Note d of Table 19||-|
The GDP chained, implicit price index was used throughout the study to standardize to 2002 dollars.
Source: Anielski and Wilson, 2005Footnote394
Notes of Table 19
- Note [a] of Table 19
These are either environmental or societal costs associated with market-based activities (e.g., forest industry operations).
- Note [b] of Table 19
based on European Union air pollution cost estimates for SO2, NOx, PM2.5, and VOC for 2002.
- Note [c] of Table 19
Market values are denoted
- Note [d] of Table 19
- Note [e] of Table 19
Further information was available for certain provisioning and cultural services at a provincial or local scale. Harvest data from hunting and trapping were used to extract trends for the Species of special economic, cultural, or ecological interest key finding on page 129. Some trapping information was presented for the cumulative number of wildlife pelts produced in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan from 1970 to 2009.Footnote 395 From 1987 to 1988, trapping fur yields dropped more than 50%, driven in large part by a reduction in the number of muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) furs. This decline in trapping was likely attributable to new trapping methods introduced in Canada in the late 1980s. Thus it does not likely reflect actual population trends. The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) was eventually ratified by Canada in 1999 and implementation of standards was completed in 2007.Footnote 396
Figure 72. a) Total number of wildlife pelts (representing all trapped species in the ecozone+) and b) value of wildlife pelts from trapping by province from 1970 to 2006.
These province-wide data exceed the Boreal Shield Ecozone+ boundaries.
Source: Statistics Canada, 2009
Long Description for Figure 72
These two line graphs show the following information:
|Year||Sask. - Number of pelts||Manitoba - Number of pelts||Ontario - Number of pelts||Quebec - Number of pelts||Sask. - Value of pelts||Manitoba - Value of pelts||Ontario - Value of pelts||Quebec - Value of pelts|
Aboriginal People have observed changes in blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides), wild rice (Zizania aquatica), and fish in the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. Blueberry growth may be reduced by increased temperatures, drought, and fire suppression.4, Footnote 397 Wild rice distribution and harvest were altered due to hydroelectric development in the early 1900s.Footnote 398 Hydrological changes related to hydro-developments were also reported to cause changes in fish ecology, including spawning behaviour,Footnote 399 presence of certain species,Footnote 400 and an overall reduction in freshwater biodiversity.Footnote 401
Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+
No valuations of ecosystem goods and services were found for the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. Moose are a wildlife resource valued by Newfoundland people for their subsistence, aesthetic, and economic value, and the annual hunt is an important cultural practice within the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. Annual license sales have exceeded 25,000 for the past five years with up to 10% of sales going to non-resident hunters.96 Hunting revenues and other tourist activities related to moose contribute more than $100 million annually to the Newfoundland economy.96
Figure 73. a) Total number of wildlife pelts (representing all trapped species in the ecozone+) and b) value of wildlife pelts from trapping in Newfoundland and Labrador from 1970 to 2009.
These are provincial data and exceed the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ boundaries.
Source: Statistics Canada, 2010
Long Description for Figure 73
These two line graphs show the following information:
|Year||Number of wildlife pelts||Value of wildlife pelts|
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