Environmental Change and Canadian Ecosystems

Environmental change

Environmental change is the slow but gradual process of biophysical adjustments to changes in natural and anthropogenic factors affecting the environment. Environmental change is a continuous process that has always existed. Its history can be traced back to Precambrian, Ordovician and Orogenic times when landscape formation was associated with earth movements triggered by isostacy. Without human intervention in the natural environment, the processes resulting into environmental change continue as though it were very normal; any change in one locality is always followed by another change with equal magnitude in a nearby location (Clair et al 2001, 4).

Contemporary environmental change has been exuberated by human activities mainly attributed to industrialization and urbanization. Man’s attempts to replace natural landscape with artificial beautification, causes unwarranted alterations to the natural ecosystem and results in maladjustments of the Canadian ecosystem to its immediate environment. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the environment is usually facilitated by inventory from research which provides long term monitoring data. Such data is necessary in conservation initiative and measures aimed at keeping water resources in the atmosphere conducive for human life and wildlife (Duthie 1989, 317).

Environmental change in the Canadian Ecosystem

The Canadian ecosystem consists of both natural and exotic species of plants and animals. For example, Canada has 13 drinking waters sources. Some of lakes are under threats of increased toxicity due increased acidification and concentrations of carbon compounds in their aquarium. In a recent study to determine the quality of fresh water resources based on Claire and found out that increased acidification threaten aquatic organisms and microorganisms to possible future extinction (Claire et al 2001, 3). However, the levels of toxicity were not yet harmful to human health. High concentration of ions and anions in the lake alters the pH of the lake and this hinders marine life propagation (Duthie 1989, 321). The causes of acidic depositions include forest fire in upland areas and forest harvesting. For example in Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia of Atlas province infernos were mapped by Ouimet et al(2006) as responsible for critical loads of acidity and exceedances (Ouimet 2006, 58).

Areas prone to soil acidification were mapped out from Ouimet et al (2006) data and it shows how logging in highland forests increases the rates of acidification. Sulphur and its compounds are critically harmful to forests leading to poor soils. Reducing the concentrations of nitrogen oxides is necessary to minimize soil acidification thereby ensuring good agricultural soils (Elimelech 2006, 7). Despite the fact that mapping of different provinces were done at different GIS resolution, the general picture of the extent of atmospheric acidification and terrestrial deposition indicates the wide spread effect of environmental change. Such dramatic changes shown captured by the mapping may pose greater risks to domesticated cattle on free range system in the pampas regions and Newfoundland Highlands. Vegetation degradation particularly in the Boreal coniferous forest may lead to increased deposition since the process is exuberated by acidification. Southern shores of the Great Lakes region are particularly at risk due to exotic species invading the bear soil latterly deposited. Much of these soils have high acidity because they are contaminated by nitrogen, carbon and sulfuric compounds which alters their composition (Gensemer 1999, 319).

The new species are easily adapted the conditions created by this process as they have survived sometimes in bulge water, or in the cargo, or even attached themselves to the ships from far regions where conditions may even be mare hash. Such highly adaptive species of plants may drive the indigenous species of plants and associated organisms to extinction. The logic is that indigenous species may take a longer time to adjust to eventually grow in a constantly changing environment where the changes directly affect the animals and plants physiological functioning. Estuarine plants particularly depend on subsurface nutrients from the youngest soil strata. When this surface stratum are constantly generated with chemical and physical alterations, the chances of such plants as mash, bogs and papyrus which provide breeding niches and habitats for Ontario’s amphibians is minimized. Environmental change in the Canadian ecosystem significantly disturbs the wildlife and diversity of Canadian provinces which is habitat to 300,000 amphibians and more than 400, 000 known terrestrial animals all of which depend on the 13 fresh water resources in the country (Ginn 2006, 59)


The destruction of natural ecosystem to replace them with artificial and alien species may hamper the existence of natural species. The compounding effects of chemical pollution may have adverse effects on the Canadian ecosystem which is home to some 400, 000 species of animals most of which find their habitat in the Boreal forest and the Great lakes. Afforestation programme by Trans-boundary pollution agencies is likely to consolidate calcareous soil around Prince Edward Island where the critical loads were found to be high. Generally, in East Canada critical loads and exceedances were found to be high accompanied by high deposition because the calcareous soils are more susceptible to acidic disposition. The southern parts of Canada around Ontario region have well adjusted soils. The soils are characterized by coarse texture of felsic or granitic origin (Fallu 2000, 8).

Protected forest in the upland in Nova Scotia and Canadian Shield buffers this particular environment against high acidification resulting into low critical loads. High rates of atmospheric deposition accompanied by low critical loads in Quebec, Lower Laurentides and northern parts of St. Lawrence River was captured by high ecxeedances in the regions Mapping (Donahue 2006,112).

High acid concentration is environmentally hazardous to humans particularly lumbermen who may want to harvest forests in the region during winter. Effects of acidic deposition estimated at about 20%, is due to “whole-tree forest harvesting” in the Boreal coniferous forest. Similar activities in the north, is likely to increase the Ontario’s critical loads and levels of exceedances to pH that is detrimental to aquatic life (Garrison 2005, 169).

The Biodiversity of floceulosa, zamusemis species including a variety of amphibians such as Anura, Caecilia, Testudines and squamata may decline or transform to other well adapted species. These aquatic organisms are mobile and trans-boundary as they live in the universal water bodies such as Lake Ontario which is party of the Great Lakes. Wide spread pollution found by Fallu and colleagues (2000, 8) is likely to drive these species to other quotas especially in the northern parts of Great lakes as the rangeland biodiversity migrate to Highlands north west of Quebec and Nova Scotia west of Boreal forest. The plains on the lower escarpment of St. Lawrence may be completely wiped at the course of the river by increased headward deposition. The river course ecosystem is then endangered by acidic deposition indicated by high exceedances.

Reference List

Clair, Thomas, Pollock, Tom, Brun, Geoffrey, Ouellet, Adam and Lockerbie, Daniel. 2001. Environment Canada’s acid precipitation monitoring networks in Atlantic Canada: Occasional Report No. 16. Environment Canada.

Donahue, William, Allen, Evanston and Schindler, David. 2006. Impacts of coalfired power plants on trace metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in lake sediments in central Alberta, Can. J Paleolimnol. 35:111-128.

Duthie, Henry. 1989. Diatom-inferred pH history of Kejimkujik Lake, Nova Scotia: a reinterpretation. Water Air Soil Pollute. 46:317-322

Elimelech, Michael. 2006. The global challenge for adequate and safe water. J. Water Supply Res. Technol. AQUA, 55:3-10.

Fallu, Michael, Allaire, Newton and Pienitz, Robert. 2000. Freshwater diatoms from northern Québec and Labrador (Canada). Bibl. Diatomol.45:1-20.

Fouler, Charles, Dixit, Samuel, Cumming, Bernie and Smol, Paul. 1991. Variability in diatom and chrysophyte assemblages and inferred pH: paleolimnological studies of Big Moose Lake, N.Y., USA. J. Paleolimnol. 5:267-284.

Garrison, Paul, and Fitzgerald, Stephen. 2005. The role of shoreland development and commercial cranberry farming in a lake in Wisconsin, USA. J. Paleolimnol, 33:169-188.

Gensemer, Robert and Playle, Richard. 1999. The bioavailability and toxicity of aluminum in aquatic environments. Crit. Rev.Envirn. Sci. Technol. 29:315-450.

Ginn, Brian. 2006. Assessment of surface-water acidification using diatoms as paleoecological indicators in low alkalinity lakes in Nova Scotia (Canada) with a focus on lakes in Kejimkujik and Cape Breton Highlands National Parks. PhD dissertation. Department of Biology. Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. 59.

Ouimet, Robert, Arp Paul, Watmough, Stephen, Aherne, John & Demerchant, Peter. 2006. Determination and mapping critical loads of acidity and exceedances for upland forest soils in Eastern Canada. Water Air and Soil Pollution 172: 57-66.

Tropea, Anderson, Ginn, David, Cumming, Bernie and Smol, Paul. 2007. Tracking long-term acidification trends in Pockwock Lake (Halifax, Nova Scotia), the water supply for a major eastern Canadian City. Lake and Reserve. Manage, 23, no. 2