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ecosystem balance

The relationships between climate and plant and wildlife species are complex. Each species and its habitat has a unique set of tolerances to climate. When the climate changes, each species will react differently; some will thrive and some will diminish or migrate as habitats change. Like a chain reaction, whole ecosystems will react and adapt to the new circumstances.



What's good for the goose...

Snow goose numbers have increased 300% since the 1960s. Warmer central arctic temperatures have meant earlier springs and higher nesting success. Colder temperatures in northeast Hudson Bay have encouraged these birds to nest and spend the summer in southwest Hudson Bay, instead of stopping briefly to feed in the spring on their way north. Thus, marshes of southwest Hudson Bay, that used to have the summer to recover from the spring goose feeding frenzy now suffer from hundreds of days of extra goose use.

Fish in hot water?

 

Photo of fishing from motorboat. Fish species are affected by warming waters

(NRCan photolibrary)

Warm-water fish, such as black bass, sunfish, white bass, and white perch, will thrive as the water warms. Cold-water species, such as lake trout and lake whitefish, may disappear from southern Ontario as their habitat changes.



Deer, moose, and polar bear

White-tailed deer are expected to flourish in the southern parts of the province, whereas experts expect that the distribution of moose, easily stressed by heat, will shift northward. As the season for nearshore sea ice is reduced, polar bears, who depend on this ice in spring and fall to hunt seals, may suffer.

Deer, moose, and polar bear

(Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)

Did you know?

The cold temperature of Lake Superior water creates favourable conditions for a number of arctic-alpine plant species, including the common butterwort, which would not otherwise grow so far south. Warmer water temperatures could jeopardize this and several dozen other arctic-alpine plant species and vegetation communities.

Our natural heritage