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Flora & Fauna

Ontario is home to roughly 200 species of freshwater fish, 300 bird, 76 mammals and 138 butterflies.  Costa Rica on the other hand has 800 birds, 200 mammals, and 1,200 butterflies in an area the size of Lake Huron.  What accounts for this difference?  The answer is of course is biodiversity.  Biodiversity is the amount of different species of flora and fauna that exist within an area.  Biodiversity on Earth tends to decrease latitude, with the most biodiversity in the tropics and the least at the poles.  The primary reason for this has everything to do with plant growth.  Since equatorial regions receive more sun annually, more plants grow as food for animals.  The more food there is to eat for herbivores, the more food there is to eat for predators. 

Of course this link between latitude and biodiversity may not be entirely correct.  Some studies have shown that forest productivity and biodiversity have no relationship.  The boreal forests of Northern Ontario for example are nearly as productive as our mixed deciduous forests but do not demonstrate nearly as much biodiversity.

Northern Canada was the site of evolution of many common mammals found today:

  • Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
  • White-tail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
  • Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
  • Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
  • Wolf (Canis lupus)
  • Coyote (Canis latrans)
  • Fox
  • Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus)

 

By contrast:

  • Moose
  • Elk (Cervus elaphus)
  • Caribou (Rangifer tarandus)
  • Bighorn Sheep

 

Are all recent additions to North America who likely traveled to Canada by land bridges from Eurasia during the Pleistocence epoch when sea levels were much lower.  Much the same way that humans made their way to the North American continent approximately 20,000 years ago!

 ref page 4-45, 4-47