Species Monitoring

Biodiversity can be defined as the variety of life. Specifically in the Niagara Region, the richness of life is quite high. There are over 300 bird species, 53 mammals, 36 reptiles and amphibians, 90 types of fish and 1500 vegetation species! Despite the richness, there are threats to these species, which cause their population numbers to decline.

In 2010, Environment Canada conducted a species study, where 77% were ranked “secure,” and 12% were ranked “at risk” or “may be at risk.” Species with a known risk or may be at risk ranking included: reptiles (43%), freshwater mussels (35%) and amphibians (20%).

Threats to Biodiversity

Not all species face the same level of threat, but the following issues affect all flora and fauna in some way:

Extinction, Land-use change and irreversible conversion of landscapes and their previous ecological functions (example: forest to agriculture), Disruption of natural cycles (nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, water etc.), Disruption of the water cycle and ground water recharge, Invasion by or introduction of exotic (non-native) organisms, Toxins, Pollutants and human wastes, Changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere, Ozone depletion, Climate Change, Over-harvesting or over-hunting, Killing off, Habitat loss, Habitat fragmentation, Increasing human population etc.

Niagara College and Species Monitoring

Niagara College is committed to preserving, conserving and enhancing biodiversity at the Welland and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. There are many projects in place that demonstrate our pledge to making our campuses not only for our students, staff and visitors, but also the plants and animals that may live here too. There are a number of monitoring programs the College participates in, to ensure best sharing practices when a rare or interesting species is spotted! This is particularly important, as the information collection is presented in large databases, that are shared all over the world.

A bee spotted at the Welland Campus
A bee spotted at the Welland Campus

Lost Ladybug Project

As the composition of ladybugs across North America has changed over the last twenty-years, it is extremely important to report sightings of the native bug, Coccinella novemnotata, the nine-spotted bug. Sightings of the bug have been reported to the Lost Ladybug Project already! Open your field guide to ladybugs here, to learn which ones are native and non-native.

Bumble Bee Watch

In a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees, the Wildlife Preservation Canada, The Xerces Society (for Invertebrate Conservation), University of Ottawa, Bee Spotter and Natural History Museum developed a monitoring program. Bumble Bee Watch encourages anyone who spots any species of bumble bee to take a photo, and send in the information to their website.

Ontario Species Ranking

Ontario with over 30, 000 species — 200 are in trouble. Species at risk will fall into one of four categories, depending on the degree of risk.

  1. Extinct: No longer lives anywhere in the world
  2. Extirpated: Lives somewhere in the world, and at one time lived in the wild in Ontario, but no longer lives in the wild in Ontario
  3. Endangered: Lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation
  4. Threatened: Lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it
  5. Special Concern: Lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered or threatened, but may become threatened or endangered due to a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats

Sensitive Species in Niagara

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the following species are ranked and sensitive in the Niagara Region.

Birds

  • Acadian Flycatcher – Endangered
  • Bald Eagle – Special Concern
  • Barn Owl – Endangered
  • Barn Swallow – Threatened
  • Black Tern – Special Concern
  • Bobolink – Threatened
  • Cerulean Warbler – Threatened
  • Eastern Meadowlark – Threatened
  • Eastern Whip-Poor-Will – Threatened
  • Henslow’s Sparrow– Endangered
  • Least Bittern – Threatened
  • Louisiana Waterthrush – Special Concern
  • Peregrine Falcon – Special Concern
  • Piping Plover – Endangered
  • Prothonotary Warbler – Endangered
  • Prothonotary Warbler – Endangered
  • Yellow-breasted Chat – Endangered

Fish, Insects, Mammals, Lizards and Mussels

  • Lake Chubsucker – Threatened
  • Redside Dace – Endangered
  • Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee – Endangered
  • Woodland Vole – Special Concern
  • Eastern Pondmussel – Endangered
  • Kidneyshell – Endangered
  • Round Pigtoe – Endangered
  • Snuffbox – Endangered
  • Monarch Butterfly – Special Concern

Plants

  • American Chestnut – Endangered
  • American Columbo – Endangered
  • American Water-Willow – Threatened
  • Broad Beech Fern – Special Concern
  • Cherry Birch – Endangered
  • Common Hop Tree – Threatened
  • Cucumber Tree – Endangered
  • Deerberry – Threatened
  • Dwarf Hackberry – Threatened
  • Eastern Flowering Dogwood – Endangered
  • Green Dragon – Special Concern
  • Round-leaved Greenbrier – Threatened
  • Shumard Oak – Special Concern
  • Spoon-Leaved Moss– Endangered
  • Spotted Wintergreen – Endangered
  • Swamp-Rose Mallow – Special Concern
  • Virginia Mallow – Endangered
  • White Wood Aster – Threatened

Snakes and Turtles

  • Eastern Ribbonsnake – Special Concern
  • Gray Ratsnake – Endangered
  • Massasauga Rattlesnake – Threatened
  • Milksnake – Special Concern
  • Blanding’s Turtle – Threatened
  • Eastern Musk Turtle – Threatened
  • Northern Map Turtle – Special Concern
  • Snapping Turtle – Special Concern
  • Spiny Softshell – Threatened

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