Canada has more habitats than you can shake a stick at. In these wildlife havens, wolverines prowl, bats swoop, insects buzz, and reptiles slither. It's important to know what’s going on with habitats in your area because their health affects all the organisms living within them, including you. Although some habitats are hale and hearty, others are critically ill. This activity will help you assess your ecozone’s general vitality and then prescribe "treatments" to cure ill health.
- Wildlife and ecosystems ignore geographical boundaries. To make it easier to study the vast diversity of natural communities in Canada, scientists have divided the country into 15 ecozones.
- On a map of your region, mark in your city or town and any protected areas, such as provincial or national parks, national wildlife areas, and biosphere reserves. You can get this data from Environment Canada.
- Play the role of a doctor with your ecozone as your patient. Research and record your patient's history. Since your ecozone can't speak for itself, you will need to interview naturalists, biologists, teachers, and other knowledgeable people. Also consult magazines, newspapers, and government publications. Is your ecozone mostly urban or rural? How was your patient's health before the first settlers arrived? Were there more forests, grasslands, or other natural are as back then?
- List human activities, such as mining, farming, and urbanization, that have happened in your ecozone in the past century.
- What symptoms is your patient complaining about? For instance, have any animals or plants declined in numbers ordisappea red? Have alien species pushed out any native species? How healthy are your patient's lakes, rivers, and wetlands? Have industries caused any harm ?
- Is your ecozone heavily populated with humans? Does population density affect your patient's health?
- On the basis of your research, form a medical opinion about the health of your ecozone. If your patient is ill, do you think it will survive? If not, how long would you give it to live?
- Consult with medical colleagues (other students and teachers) to come up with a prescription. What habitat projects might help your patient?
Planning Makes Perfect
- Ambitious projects may call for additional sources of money and materials. If so, provide a detailed project proposal to potential supporters. A well done proposal requires time and effort, but once complete, it can be used again and again.
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