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

Theme: Science/Policy Interface

Biodiversity monitoring, research, information management, and reporting

Key finding 21
Theme Science/policy interface

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

The lack of monitoring, research, information management, and reporting on biodiversity is not unique to these ecozones+. Few data were available at the scale of the ecozone+ for the Boreal Shield Ecozone+. Monitoring programs varied widely among provinces, making it difficult to combine and interpret provincial data for an ecozone+-level trend.

When data were available, they were seldom available for sufficiently long periods to define trends. Specifically:

  • Long-term, ecosystem and ecozone+ -scale data for mining were unavailable;
  • Long-term, ecosystem and ecozone+ -scale data for hydroelectric developments were inconsistent across the ecozone+ ;
  • Wetland ecosystems were not monitored and there was a lack of consensus among jurisdictions regarding protections afforded to wetlands, wetland size, and wetland type;
  • Population surveys of indicator species or species assemblages were unavailable at the ecozone+ -scale. Often, the only available trends were derived from commercial or recreational harvest data, which carried biases from market demand and harvester effort; and,
  • Data for fish, reptiles, and amphibians populations were lacking relative to birds and mammals.

Quantitative data was difficult to acquire for key findings for the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+. Challenges include the difficulty in accessing part of Labrador and cuts or changes to monitoring programs and protected areas.

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Rapid change and thresholds

Key finding 22
Theme Science/policy interface

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

Inthe last half of the 20th century, many forests of the Boreal Shield Ecozone+reached a tipping point whereclosed-crown conifer forests and conifer-dominated stands converted to mixed and deciduous-dominated stands. This was areaction to changes in forest management practices, fire regimes, and insect outbreaks(see the Forests key finding on page22).Some portions of the boreal forest in central Quebec became lichen woodland ecosystems in the latter half of the 20th century. In this case, the less productive lichen woodlands (a more northern forest type) have become well established further south. There is no sign that this trend could soon be reversed.Footnote69 In this area, wildfire risk increased from 1901 to 2002.Footnote479 These changes correspond to expected results in ecosystem composition and structure due to a rapidly changing climate.Footnote389 Further, the cumulative pressures from the range expansion of viruses, parasites, and invasive species are largely unknown. West Nile virus and P. tenuis (the brain worm of white-tailed deer that is fatal to caribou) could have the most significant impacts on wildlife in this ecozone+.Footnote519 Footnote522 Footnote523

In contrast, invasive species have impacted the Newfoundland Boreal Ecozone+ for over 100 years. The shift in tree species composition and lack of forest regeneration decades following disturbance suggests that moose and insect defoliators have permanently altered forested ecosystems in Newfoundland.

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Footnote 69

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

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Footnote 389

Flannigan, M.D., Logan, K.A., Amiro, B.D., Skinner, W.R. and Stocks, B.J. 2005. Future area burned in Canada. Climatic Change 72:1-16.

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Footnote 479

Girardin, M.P. and Wotton, B.M. 2009. Summer moisture and wildfire risks across Canada. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 48:517-533.

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Footnote 519

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

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Footnote 522

Rupprecht, C.E., Stohr, K. and Meredith, C. 2001. Rabies. In Infectious diseases of wild mammals. Edition 3. Edited by Williams, E.S. and Barker, I.K. Iowa State University Press. Ames, IA. Chapter 1. pp. 3-36.

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Footnote 523

Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre. 2008. Canadaʹs national wildlife disease database [online]. (accessed 23 January, 2009).

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