| Wetlands, Lakes, Rivers & Shorelines
in Carolinian Canada
rivers, streams, wetlands and shorelines help define Carolinian
Canada. Indeed, it is the ameliorating influence of the
surrounding Great Lakes that gives the Carolinian zone its milder
climate than the rest of Ontario. This milder climate allows many
more southern species to occur here but not elsewhere in
Lakes, Rivers and Streams
The aquatic ecosystems of lakes and rivers and
those of wetlands harbour much of Carolinian Canada's unique
natural diversity. For example, the Sydenham and Thames
Rivers support many Carolinian aquatic species-at-risk,
particularly fish and
Lakes Ontario, Erie, St. Clair and Huron and
connecting channels of the Niagara, Detroit and St. Clair Rivers
define many of the boundaries of the Carolinian zone. Lake
Erie has a number of unique species such as the Lake Erie Water
Snake, endemic to the lake. Several fish species endemic to
the Great Lakes occur in one or more of Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron including
the Bloater (Coregonus hoyi).
The Carolinian zone forms part of the watersheds
of Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario. Water quality in the lakes and
their watersheds has been a concern for decades. Efforts to
restore water quality in the Great Lakes basin have led to
improving water quality, but more action is needed.
Many rivers flow through the Carolinian zone,
the Thames and the Grand Rivers are among the longest. A map of
major watersheds in the region can be found here.
Wetlands--marshes, swamps, slough forests, bogs,
fens--dot the Carolinian landscape. Huge coastal marshes sprawl
out into the lakes at Long Point, Rondeau, Point Pelee and Walpole
Island, to name a few. Many slough forests are found on the
Haldimand Clay Plain in Niagara and Haldimand.
At the time of settlement, wetlands covered 26%
of the Carolinian zone, but this has dropped to 5% today and
continues to drop. Wetland conservation policies and programs have
slowed the loss.
forest types include many wetland swamp types. The plants
of Carolinian wetlands include many forest species such as
Black Gum, Pumpkin Ash and Kentucky Coffee Tree.
Great Lakes shorelines, dunes, swales and other
habitats are showcased at Long Point,
Rondeau, Pinery, and Point Pelee. The sand spits and dunes of Lake Erie
and Lake Huron harbour other unusual species such as the Eastern
Prickly Pear Cactus.
Species of Wetlands, Lakes, Rivers and
Fish species of Carolinian Canada's wetlands, lakes, rivers and
shorelines include a number found more widely in the Mississipi
River basin and other water bodies in the eastern U.S.
Freshwater native clams are the most endangered
animal group in North America (Source: United States Geological
Survey). Over the past century, native clam species have suffered
severe declines in diversity and abundance due to human impacts on
aquatic habitat, commercial harvesting, the introduction of carp,
water pollution, and the recent invasion of zebra mussels. Many of
the native clams of the Carolinian zone have distributions centred
in the Great Lakes and Ohio and Mississipi Rivers.
number of wetland
and aquatic plant species have ranges centred in the eastern U.S.
including species such as Swamp Rose Mallow, Black Gum and Pumpkin
Birds of Carolinian wetlands, lakes, rivers and
shorelines include species such as the Great Egret and King Rail.
Numerous species of reptiles and
amphibians make their home primarily or entirely in wetlands,
lakes, streams and shoreline habitats of the Carolinian zone, including the Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle,
the Eastern Fox Snake, the Hognose Snake, the Queen Snake, and