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Featured Stories

Featured Stories are sidebars that provide topical summaries of Ontario Biodiversity issues and trends, success stories and programs. Featured stories present compelling information relevant to the conservation of Ontario’s biodiversity, but are not indicators because of limited data or geographic scope.  When featured stories are related to a particular indicator, a 5th tab appears on the indicator allowing access to the Featured Story content.

Recognizing Achievement and Innovation in Biodiversity Conservation

At first glance, a sand or gravel pit may not seem a likely place to find innovation in biodiversity. But look beyond the piles of sand and stone, and you’ll soon discover the enormous care Ontario’s aggregate producers take to ensure biodiversity. Rehabilitated pit As stewards of Ontario’s aggregate resources (stone, sand and gravel), agg…

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Reducing Wildlife Collisions

One of the most important impacts of roads on wildlife populations is the direct mortality of animals as they are hit and killed by vehicles. In Ontario alone, there are approximately 14,000 wildlife/vehicle collisions reported each year (almost all involving large herbivores such as deer). There are many more unreported collisions involving smaller mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians (Ontario Road Ecology Group …

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Related Indicator(s)

Fish Species Return to the Western Creek

In 2008, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) researchers identified a good candidate site for aquatic habitat restoration where Western Creek and the East Holland River meet in the centre of Newmarket. Issues at the site included unstable banks, lack of vegetation and an in-stream fish barrier. LSRCA, in partnership with the Town of Newmarket, the Regional Municipality of York, the Lake Simcoe Conservat…

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Related Indicator(s)

Watershed Report Cards

Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities (CAs) are local management agencies that deliver services and programs to protect and manage water and other natural resources on a watershed basis. CAs work in partnership with all levels of government, landowners and other organizations. They promote an integrated approach and aim to balance human, environmental and economic needs. Strong and resilient natural ecosystems help…

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Related Indicator(s)

Phragmites in Ontario

Invasive plants are an immediate and growing threat to Ontario’s biodiversity, economy and society. They spread aggressively, choking out native vegetation, threatening our natural areas, and the species that depend on them. They can also degrade agricultural lands, and impact forest regeneration, costing Ontarians millions of dollars annually in control costs and lost productivity. Invasive Phragmites or European …

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Emerald Ash Borer in Ontario

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis) is an invasive insect species that originates from Asia and was first detected in Ontario in 2002 (Haack et al. 2002). The adult is between 7.5 to 15.0 mm in length and can be identified by its metallic green colour. The Emerald Ash Borer feeds on and damages all ash tree species (Fraxinus spp.). The insect has spread rapidly in Ontario through the movement of infested as…

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Assessing Critical Loads for Nitrogen and Sulphur in Ontario

Human activities caused emissions of sulphur and nitrogen to increase dramatically in the middle of the twentieth century (Driscoll et al. 2001). Control programs have reduced emissions but sulphur and nitrogen compounds are expected to have continuing negative impacts on biodiversity. In particular, sulphur and nitrogen compounds in the form of acid rain can cause acidification of soils and surface waters and can de…

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Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program

The government of Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program was established in 2007 to re-green settled landscapes, with a pledge to plant 50 million trees across the province by 2025. The primary purpose of the program is to sequester approximately 6.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050, helping southern Ontario’s forests withstand the effects of climate change. Other benefits include improving wildlife habitat, c…

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Long Term Trends in Lake Huron fish communities

Scientists from the Michigan State Universityi have been working with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) to study long-term changes to the Lake Huron fish community. The analysis is based on catch data for offshore fish communities at five locations in Lake Huron over the past 30 years from gillnet surveys conducted by OMNRF. Catches were adjusted by sampling effort, as well as by differen…

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Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Habitat Restoration

Lake Ontario used to be home to a thriving population of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar). The Lake Ontario Salmon Habitat Restoration Program works to bring this species, part of Ontario’s rich biodiversity, back to the lake. The Program has four components: fish production and stocking, water quality and habitat enhancement, outreach and evaluation, and research and monitoring. One effort to support restoring Atlant…

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Blue-Green Algae Blooms in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are an important part of Ontario’s biodiversity, economy and culture. In the past decade, increasing incidents of harmful algal blooms have threatened the integrity of the Great Lakes (OMOECC 2014; O’Neil et al. 2012 and; Paerl et al. 2011). Algal blooms occur when algal cells in lakes or rivers reach a critical concentration which makes them visible to the naked eye. Many types of algae form bloo…

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White-nose Syndrome in Bats

Bats are an integral part of Ontario’s biodiversity and serve important ecosystem functions such as controlling populations of non-beneficial insects that damage crops and spread diseases. White-nose syndrome, a disease that affects hibernating bats, is named for a white fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) appearing on the muzzle, wings and ears (Figure 1). Bats that are infected with the fungus have been known t…

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Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre

The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC) launched in 2002 with the mission is to aid in the conservation of Ontario’s turtles. This is accomplished through a three-pronged approach to conservation that includes rehabilitation, field research and education. The KTTC hospital admits upwards of 500 injured adult turtles per year. They include all Ontario’s turtle species, but the majority are Blanding’s Turtles, P…

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Pollinators in Ontario

Pollinators are a key component of biodiversity, providing vital ecosystem services to crops and wild plants. Over 100,000 invertebrate species — such as bees, moths, butterflies, beetles, and flies — serve as pollinators worldwide. At least 1,035 species of vertebrates, including birds, mammals, and reptiles, also pollinate some plant species. The loss of wild pollinators would likely have far reaching, cascadin…

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Conservation Status Index

Although many Ontario species are secure, others are at risk of disappearing from the province due to threats such as habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, unsustainable use and climate change (Ontario Biodiversity Council 2010). Determining which species and species groups are thriving and which are rare or declining is crucial in understanding the current state of biodiversity in Ontario and targeting conserva…

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The role of Genetics in White Pine Conservation and Recovery

Genetic diversity is the combination of different genes found within a population and the pattern of variation found within different populations of the same species (Frankham et al. 2002). It is shaped by past population processes and affects the viability of species and populations in the future. Genetically diverse organisms are thought to be better able to withstand and adapt to environmental changes, to pass on …

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Stewardship Efforts in the Gully Creek Watershed

Measuring the Benefits of Best Management Practices in Gully Creek Intermittent channels across the land contribute to poor water quality during storms. Runoff and erosion can add sediment to surface water such as creeks, rivers, and lakes. High levels of suspended sediment can negatively affect aquatic species by clogging gills, impairing the quality of fish habitat, limiting the ability of ‘sight feeders’ to fe…

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Birds in the Albion Hills

Joan and Gerald Donnelly have lived on their 100 acre farm just outside of Mono Mills for 42 years, on land now designated part of the Niagara Escarpment. The couple believes in creating and protecting habitat for birds and other wildlife on their farm, having installed many bluebird, wood duck and bat boxes around their property. They’re also willing to share their barn with the swallows every year, despite the cl…

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Urban Biodiversity

It’s a sight you don’t see every day: cattail marshes, Green Herons, Painted Turtles, Wood Ducks, Mallards and the occasional Osprey…right beside new subdivisions. Yet these all coexist in the town of Aurora, Ontario, where the municipality is working to balance development with the need for urban biodiversity including wildlife habitat. Bolstered by two major land donations (to Ducks Unlimited Canada and the O…

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Wetlands and Biodiversity Education

Research shows that getting students active in local projects and providing them with real world models can promote understanding and change future attitudes and behaviour. Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) education programs are making it easier for teachers to enhance biodiversity education by providing experiences that increase knowledge about and appreciation for wetlands. Project Webfoot creates curriculum-linked…

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The Far North Biodiversity Project

The Far North of Ontario is a vast, largely wilderness region stretching from Manitoba to James Bay and from approximately 50 degrees north latitude to Hudson Bay as defined by the Far North Act, 2010. This immense landscape encompasses 42% of Ontario’s landmass spanning 451,808 km² of boreal forest and wetland; and is home to one of the world’s most southerly tundra ecosystems. It is made up of two ecologically…

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